Smoking e-cigarettes or ‘vaping’ has been increasing in popularity since 2003 when it was first introduced to smokers as a safer option to paper cigarettes. However, several studies have recently revealed that vaping may not be as safe as initially thought. Now, a new vaping-related danger is making headlines – and this time the danger is coming from an unlikely source. We spoke Dr. Stephen Hill, an Allen, TX-based dentist about these shocking new revelations.
When Andrew Hall of Pocatello, ID woke up and began to get ready for work one Saturday morning this past January, little did he know his life- and his mouth- would never be the same. Hall woke up, planned to vape, and then take a shower and get ready for work. Unfortunately, he never made it that far- because when he began vaping, his e-cigarette unit literally exploded in his mouth- taking with it part of his wall, his sink, and nine of his teeth.
Despite the disaster, Mr. Hall was lucky- the damage could have been much worse. He will need dental implants or dentures to replace the teeth, and he may have permanent scarring on his face and neck from burns caused by the explosion- but at least he’s alive. So, how could this happen? Investigators aren’t sure- but some theorize the precipitation from Hall’s running shower may be responsible. Another theory is that the rechargeable lithium-ion battery which powers his e-cigarette may have overheated. This type of rechargeable battery has been known to explode in other devices, having recently made headlines for explosions in numerous cell phones and hoverboards.
To Hill, an equally disturbing element to this story is not just that Hall’s e-cigarette exploded- it’s that Hall’s is not the first to explode. In fact, since 2009, there have been 25 e-cigarette explosions, nine of which have caused injuries- two serious. "But," says Hill, "even despite these injuries, there are still no regulations on these devices yet." Thankfully the FDA will be conducting hearings on the safety of these units in coming months. However, Hill feels regulations on new machines may not be enough. With more than 2.5 million people ‘vaping’ in America, it could be difficult to reach everyone. He explains "Even if retailers do begin warning consumers who are purchasing new units, many consumers with older models may not get the memo. With regular cigarettes, there’s a golden opportunity to reach the consumer every time they buy a new pack. With vaporizers, you could have the same unit for five years and never know there’s a danger associated with it."
So, what can be done to minimize the risk of your e-cigarette exploding? Experts suggest first and foremost, do not get your e-cigarette wet, or expose it to areas of high moisture or heat. Also, follow manufacturers guidelines, and only use the charger and battery that came with your unit. Finally, don’t overcharge your e-cigarette, or it could overheat. Dr. Hill, however, has a better idea "The best way to avoid an accident like this is not to use e-cigarettes at all," he says. "With all the information about the dangers of vaping fluids, and now the dangers of the e-cigarette itself, why would anyone want to continue using them?"