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A new report has identified at least 159 instances where e-cigarettes exploded due to faulty lithium-ion batteries, incorrect charging ports, damaged batteries and other problems, resulting in severe injuries and property damage.
The website ecigone.com published a comprehensive list of e-cigarette explosions earlier this month, indicating that more than 25% of problems identified occurred during use of the devices, and roughly 44% occurred during charging.
According to the research, the number of vaporizer explosions is currently on the rise with majority of explosions occurring while the devices are connected to incorrect charging docks.
Also known as vape pens, vaporizers or e-cigs, electronic cigarettes have become increasingly popular in recent years as an alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes, especially among teens and young adults. However, a number of potential serious safety concerns with vaping pens have emerged in recent years, including problems with the lithium-ion batteries contained in many of the devices.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 2.5 million people were regularly using e-cigarettes by 2014, and that this number has since grown drastically. With the last substantial piece of research regarding vape pen explosions being published nearly two years ago by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), it is unclear exactly how many users have been injured by the exploding devices.
FEMA’s report on exploding e-cigs, issued in October 2015, cited 25 exploding e-cigarette reports that resulted in nine burn injuries to users from 2009 to 2014. However, since the release of this data, the number of e-cigarette users has grown to nearly 25 million, with market sales anticipated to grow as high as $18 billion by 2018.
Spreading Vape Use Leading To More E-Cig Explosions
As FEMA and other federal agencies had anticipated, with the growing popularity of the products has also increased the number of injuries sustained by users.
According to Ecigone.com, 159 reports of exploding vape pens have been reported through the media, with many likely going unreported due to the user’s right to privacy or embarrassment to report.
The new report indicates that, of the 159 reports the site gathered during their research, 43 e-cigarette explosions occurred while in use, 72 occurred during charging, 27 exploded during transport, storage or under unknown circumstances and 17 reports included spare batteries for removable battery mods that were not even connected to the e-cig device.
At least 93 of the incidents involved some sort of serious burn injury from the e-cigarette explosion, or another permanent physical impairment.
The remaining 66 reports were not reported to have caused injuries to the user. However, it was unclear from the reports whether these explosion were the result of a defective charging station that could have resulted in extensive property damage or animal injury or death.
On October 26, 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a new flight safety rule banning passengers and crewmembers from carrying battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices in checked baggage and prohibits passengers and crewmembers from charging the devices and/or batteries on board the aircraft.The reasoning for the ban was several accounts of vape pens catching on fire in passenger carry-on bags due to the owners either leaving the devices on and the lithium-ion battery shorting-out or charging them prior to their flight.
Since the ban, there have been several reports of plane passengers attempting to bring the banned e-cigarettes aboard planes, with some resulting in fires in the plane’s cabin. Last month, an e-cigarette caught fire in a passenger’s carry-on bag on a Delta plane in Atlanta, Georgia, causing the flight to be delayed. The fire was extinguished while the plane was still on the ground and required an inspection before the flight could continue its course.
Additional reports of e-cigarette explosion listed in the new report detail horrific injuries users have suffered, which resulted in lifelong permanent injuries.
Last month, a North Carolina man’s vape pen exploded in his face while he was using it, causing him to suffer severe facial burns, requiring 50 stitches and ultimately resulting in the loss of his left eye. According to the report, the explosion is believed to have been caused by a short in the rebuildable atomizer or a damaged battery.
The increasing number of vape pen explosions is becoming problematic because there are so many potential ways for the unregulated devices to explode, that even employees who are trained on how to repair and advise customers on the devices are getting injured.
According to a report out of Cologne, Germany in January, a man’s e-cigarette exploded in his face while he was in a vape shop having a new battery and atomizer installed. The device apparently exploded immediately when the man tested it in front of the store worker who installed the new components.
Regulation of the vaporizer market is currently being called for as experts are recognizing cheaper third party material entering the market, which some say may have contributed to many of the charging station explosions. FEMA and the FDA have both launched investigations to try and identify potential safety defects, in order to determine what regulations are needed to make the industry safer.
As incidents involving the vaporizing cigarettes continue to be reported, lawsuits are being filed against manufacturers and retailer as well.
At least three separate e-cigarette lawsuits over burns were filed in California late last year, involving three men, one of whom was former major league soccer player Daniel Califf. All three men brought claims against the manufacturers and retailers for the e-cigarette devices for injuries sustained from the devices exploding. In September, a jury awarded $1.9 million in damages as part of one of the first e-cigarette explosion lawsuits filed in the U.S., after a woman was caught in a car fire and badly burned when her vape pen battery ignited while charging.