More Than 3,100 E-Cigarette and Liquid Nicotine Calls Made To U.S. Poison Centers In 2018

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Poison control centers across the United States continue to receive thousands of calls or reports involving problems with exposure to electronic cigarette liquid nicotine products, according to a recent report. 

The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) issued a press release warning about the continuing health risk, which indicates that centers nationwide handled 3,146 exposure cases involving e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine in 2018.

A detailed breakdown (PDF) of the calls indicates that this is the highest year for such calls since 2014, which had 4,023 exposure cases in total; the highest number of any year on record. It is up significantly from last year, however, which had 2,478 cases.

The liquid nicotine exposure problems often involved severe side effects like nausea, vomiting, seizures, coma or even death. In addition, many of those cases involved children and toddlers who suffered serious illnesses, sometimes requiring emergency room visits.

Over the last several years, the AAPCC has reported about a 1500% increase in liquid nicotine exposures involving children under the age of six.

Children may accidentally ingest, inhale, or get the liquid on their skin or in the eyes, according to warnings from poison control experts. Recent data also indicates a consistent increase in exposures among adult and youth users of e-cigarette devices that use the liquid nicotine products.

Various injuries have been reported in association with liquid nicotine exposure, ranging from trouble breathing, vomiting, nausea, rapid heartbeat, skin irritations, potential blindness from direct exposure to the eyes, seizures, coma, and one death has even been reported from the use of liquid nicotine products.

Toddlers are often curious, and while exploring their environment put items in their mouth, unaware of the danger. In most cases, liquid nicotine does not come in child-proof caps. Even a small amount of liquid nicotine can lead to serious poisoning or the death of a young child, making e-cigarettes a much bigger risk to toddlers than cigarettes, experts say.

In a study published in the medical journal Pediatrics in May 2018, researchers analyzed data from the National Poison Data System (NPDS), finding poison control centers recorded more than 29,000 calls for nicotine and tobacco poisonings for young children, averaging 729 child exposures per month. Sixty percent of the nicotine exposures among children involved cigarettes and 16% other tobacco products.

The AAPCC released a set of guidelines for liquid nicotine users to follow as preventative tips to keep children becoming exposed to the harmful products. The agency recommends users always protect their skin when handling liquid nicotine, always keep the products out of reach of children, follow the specific disposal instructions, and to always act swiftly in calling your local poison control center when someone is suspected to have been exposed to an e-cigarette or liquid nicotine.

You can reach your local poison control center by calling the Poison Help hotline: 1-800-222-1222. To save the number in your mobile phone, text POISON to 797979.

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