E-Cigarettes have become very popular as an alternative to smoking. Sales have grown rapidly since they became available in 2007. While the health effects of the vapor and the danger of nicotine overdose are still the subject of ongoing review by various agencies, there are some other important facts about the safety of these electronic smoking devices that all potential users should be educated on.
There have been a number of explosions and fires that have been attributed to e-cigarettes, which led the U.S. Fire Administration and FEMA to conduct an investigation. From 2009 until 2014, the media reported 25 separate incidents, generally characterized as explosions. These events occurred suddenly and were typically accompanied by a loud noise, a flash of light, smoke, flames, and often forceful ejection of the battery and other parts. Several burn injuries have been reported and two serious injuries occurred when devices exploded in users’ mouths. Zero deaths were reported in the U.S. However, there has been at least one death reported in the United Kingdom. Most of the incidents resulted in ignition of nearby contents, such as carpets, drapes, bedding, and other furniture. This investigation only looked into incidents that were reported by the media, thus it is likely that there are other incidents that have not been reported.
Eighty percent of the reported incidents occurred while the battery in the device was being charged. Many of these e-cigarettes have a USB port used to connect the device to the power adapter that is provided by the manufacturer of the e-cigarette. The use of ordinary USB port charging connections allows users to connect the e-cigarette to power adapters that are not provided by the manufacturer of the device. The use of such non-approved power adapters appears to be responsible for most of the incidents involving e-cigarettes. The voltage and current provided by USB ports can vary significantly. Plugging an e-cigarette into a USB or power adapter not supplied by the manufacturer may subject the battery to higher current than is safe, leading to thermal runaway that results in an explosion and/or fire.
E-cigarettes may also experience problems due to the lithium-ion polymer batteries. While these batteries are used in all sorts of electronic devices such as cellphones, laptop computers, medical devices, electric cars, etc.; e-cigarettes are different from these other devices because the battery is installed in a cylindrical device that has its weakest structural point at the ends. When the battery seal at the end of the battery ruptures, the pressure within the e-cigarette cylinder builds quickly and instantly ruptures, usually at the end. In contrast to e-cigarettes, the batteries used in laptops computers and other portable devices are typically contained in plastic cases that are generally strong enough to prevent the failing battery from flying away. This puts the user of this product at significant risk for burns and injury.
The manufacturers say that it is important to only charge your device with the chargers provided by the manufacturer and to adhere by any other guideline of the manufacturer. They also say that lithium-ion batteries used to power e-cigarettes can fail; however, considering the vast number of products in the field, that the failure rates are low.
Contact an Experienced Attorney Today
This is a new and emerging area of product liability, but our firm has broad experience in product liability as well as burn injury cases. If you have suffered an injury due to e-cigarettes or other product and you are considering filing a personal injury claim, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer first. The attorneys at Herman, Herman & Katz, LLC can advise you of your legal rights and work closely with you to develop a strategy for your claim. Our clients benefit from our years of combined experience, and so can you. Schedule a consultation now at 844-285-0267 or fill out our online contact form with your questions.