Many people hail vaping as a safer replacement for cigarettes, arguing that there’s no tobacco smoke, so it’s have got to be safer. It remains to be seen if that’s true, where there is some evidence how the stuff inside vapes and e-cigs is toxic. But beyond that, there’s the actual fact these matters occasionally blow up.
You hadn’t heard of this? Some pretty gruesome reports are beginning to accumulate. In November, a guy in Colorado broke his neck, lost some teeth, and suffered burns and facial fractures when his electronic cigarette exploded. A 15-year-old California boy lost half a dozen teeth in a similar mishap last month. In Tennessee, another teen is recuperating from the severe burns caused every time a vape starter kit caught fire in his pocket a couple weeks ago.
Statistics outlining precisely how prevalent this can be remain thin, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency, of all the things, identified 25 cases of electronic cigarette explosions in the usa between 2009-2014. However, that list is located only on incidents reported by the media. Considering that vaping’s seen a surge in popularity since that time-last year, the CDC reported a three-fold increase among middle- and high school students alone-the number almost certainly is rising. A simple Google search shows at the very least twelve explosions in 2015 alone.
As opposed to burning tobacco, vape pens and e-cigs make use of a small lithium-ion battery to heat an aerosol cartridge to release a vapor that’s inhaled. As in any device that utilizes lithium-ion batteries, it is possible to run into problems if the battery is damaged or subjected to extremes in temperature. A short circuit might cause the battery to overheat, catch fire, or perhaps explode. These issues tend to appear in cheap consumer gadgets which are quickly churned out from factories. All in all, it’s relatively rare, but obviously it occurs-most recently, in hoverboard scooters.
“With lithium-ion batteries generally speaking, whenever you operate one outside its safety window, there’s a tendency where things may go wrong,” says Venkat Viswanathan, who teaches mechanical engineering Carnegie Mellon University. That window is startlingly small: Viswanathan says batteries work best kept between 50 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s February, and all sorts of but four US states are averaging temperatures below 50 today.
Sometimes, the thing is compounded by cheap lithium-ion batteries that “don’t have the luxury of making use of sophisticated management systems,” Viswanathan says. That can lead to dangerously over- or under-charged batteries. Dendrite is an additional potential problem. Dendrite is really a conductive filament that will form over the course of boxmmod charge/discharge cycles, specifically if the battery is rapidly charged. These things can spread such as a weed, eventually bridging the electrodes and causing a short circuit. “You have basically something equal to gasoline in your lithium-ion battery,” Viswanathan says, “and so immediately it catches fire.”
Lithium-ion batteries power a whole lot of gadgets naturally, and frequently do this without trouble. But things such as mobile phones and laptops and electric vehicles typically are made to exacting specifications and rigorously tested, both through the company and outside experts. The Smoke-Free Alternative Trade Association, which represents for vape-makers, said it “cannot speak to user error or on behalf of a manufacturer with regard to their device” and, “If there is truly a challenge having a specific device, comparable to a lap top or mobile phone manufacturer, that company should go ahead and take appropriate action.”
As well as be fair, it’s not unusual for users to modify their box mod vape, and numerous websites offer tips on how to do exactly that. The business trade group duly notes that hacked and modded devices can pose a safety risk.
All of these begs the question what, if something, is now being done about this. Most regulatory discussions about e-cigarettes and vapes concentrate on the Food and Drug Administration’s critique of the chemicals found in the devices. The FDA is about to introduce rules regulating the market, a move which could classify electric cigarettes and vaping products similar to tobacco. Products would carry warning labels, sales to minors would be banned, and you’d see restrictions on such things as offering free samples. But little has been said concerning the safety in the devices.
The Smoke-Free Alternative Trade Association says it supports “reasonable science-based regulations,” but opposes everything that might “stifle innovation.” However it argues “e-cigs and vapor goods are technology products, separate and distinct from combustible tobacco.” They liken these to electronic products.
That’s where things get tricky. Asked if it has any safety concerns in regards to the devices, the customer Products Safety Commission deferred for the FDA, saying this is the federal regulator in charge there. The FDA does claim responsibility for ensuring the protection in the parts from the devices which are found in the intake of tobacco products. But there aren’t a great deal of safety rules for manufacturers to follow, and also the FDA is encouraging individuals to report any problems.
Viswanathan includes a recommendation for companies making what is vaping and other gadgets that use lithium-ion batteries: Crib from automakers making electric cars. They’ve developed sophisticated systems for minimizing the risks of problems. “Lithium-ion batteries fundamentally are susceptible to catching fire,” he says, “and car makers are finding efficient methods to create zones where these batteries are secure to use.”
Granted, the odds that your vape pen will blow up just like an exploding cigar are slim. However it is possible, so your best option is to find an excellent vape pen from the reputable manufacturer. Look at the parts-once they appear and feel cheap, they probably are. Viswanathan suggests ensuring it’s got some type of battery management system to stop shorts and thermal runaway. Be sure you’re while using right battery and charger, and don’t modify anything.