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A 24-year old man was killed after his electronic cigarette exploded during use, causing pieces of the exploding device to become lodged in his throat and cut a major artery in his neck, according to media reports.
William Eric Brown, of Tarrant County, Texas died on January 29, after being in a medically induced coma following the explosion of an electronic cigarette that lodged shrapnel into his throat, according to a local media report by station KTVT. Officials are still investigating the cause of the devices explosion.
Brown reportedly entered a Tarrant County smoking and vape shop on January 27, seeking help in using the mechanical mod style vape pen he had purchased. However, was told by the store manager that they do not sell the specific brand, because it was known to have issues.
After leaving the store, Brown reportedly began using the device in the parking lot when it exploded. He was rushed to Fort Worth hospital and placed into a medically induced coma, where he died just two days later, following a massive stroke.
According to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s office, Brown’s cause of death was from cerebral infarction and herniation after debris from the exploding vape pen tore his left carotid artery.
Electronic cigarettes are battery powered devices used to vaporize liquid nicotine, which is often flavored and seen as an alternative to traditional cigarette smoking. The batteries are often plugged in by wire to USB ports on computers, wall chargers, or into car cigarette lighters to recharge.
Over the last several years, the loosely regulated lithium-ion batteries used to power the devices have come into question. Lithium ion battery explosions can occur because of short circuits, or when the materials inside the battery ignite due to a chemical process called thermal runaway.
The e-cigarette explosions can be caused by a variety of factors, including damage to the battery, recharging the battery too fast, using after-market chargers, improper disposal, high heat, or after being placed in a pocket with other metal items.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there were at least 195 separate e-cigarette fire and explosion incidents between 2009 and 2016, with at least 118 resulting in moderate and severe burns requiring medical treatment.
In May 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) banned all forms of electronic smoking devices such as e-cigarettes and vape pens from checked baggage on aircraft, and e-cigarette devices and batteries may not be charged aboard any aircraft. The rule was finalized by the agency following several reports of e-cigarettes catching on fire inside of checked luggage.
The electronic nicotine delivery systems, or ENDS, have become increasingly popular across the globe since 2009, with some surveys recording as many as one in ten Americans have tried some form of electronic cigarette at least once in their life.
Late last month, FDA’s Commissioner Scott Gottlieb indicated that a full ban on ENDS may be necessary to protect the nation’s youth, amid concerns of the growing popularity of e-cigarettes among teens, and a failure of manufacturers and retailers to substantially change how the devices are marketed.
Gottlieb cited e-cigarette use spiked to 78% among high school students and 48% among middle school students over the last year, making it the most popular form of tobacco use among the nation’s teens. Other studies have also shown recently that teen use of e-cigarettes quadruples their risk of smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes later in life, causing a large portion of an entire generation to become nicotine dependent.