The Not-So-Safe Alternative
Did you know that the first e-cigarette was patented in the 1960s? But the popularity of this device didn’t really kick off until the early 2000s. E-cigarettes have been marketed as a safer “alternative” for adults to kick their nicotine habit. But is vaping safe at all?
It can be hard to draw conclusions about e-cigarette devices when new research is coming out all the time. In addition, sometimes this information can be misleading or contradicting.
When compared to tobacco cigarettes, vaping does seem to be a healthier alternative. This is because e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco or as many carcinogens that traditional cigarettes have.
Additionally, e-cigarettes show to be less harmful to those who have mild to moderate cases of asthma and they emit less toxic second and third-hand smoke.
However, a new study by the American Physiological Association found that vape smoke may be more harmful to your lungs than smoking an actual cigarette. Further, the University of North Carolina recently found that even the smallest dose of propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, two primary components of e-cigs, can expose users to high levels of toxins. Side effects of vaping include:
- Sore throat
… and new research show that the volatile organic compounds in e-cigarettes are carcinogenic. The more a user inhales, the more damage is done.
How Do E-Cigarettes Work?
The e-cigarette as we know it today was invented by Chinese pharmacist, Hon Lik. They work like a regular cigarettes, only the source of the heat is electronic. Plus, the heating “element” in e-cigarettes is an atomizer which is used to vaporize liquid. Basically, a battery powers the heating element and a sensor activates the heater when the user sucks on the device.
Most e-cigarettes contain:
- A mouthpiece
- Heating element
- Rechargeable battery
- Electronic circuits
The mouthpiece is a cartridge that holds the e-liquid, propylene glycol, also called vape “juice”; it is fixed in place to the end of a tube. Once the absorbent material dries out, the cartridge can either be replaced or refilled with another cartridge.
Injuries and Explosions
The lack of regulation in the vaping industry has caused many people to become injured by the battery devices that are used to charge vape pens. 80% of injuries occurred when the device was charging in a USB port. This problem stems from the fact that different USB ports put out different levels of voltage and current, which can cause the e-cig battery to overheat. As a result, a reaction called “thermal runaway” occurs.
The FDA has documented over 130 instances of e-cigarette explosions since these devices were brought onto the market in 2007. However, new research reports that these numbers might have been underestimated.
A new study conducted by Tobacco Control found that there are far more e-cigarette explosions and burn injuries in the United States than estimated in past reports. This study led by Dr. Matthew Rossheim in Mason’s Department of Global and Community Health used data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and found an estimated 2,035 emergency department visits from e-cigarette explosion and burn injuries from 2015 to 2017.
This number, in all likelihood, is an underestimate of total injuries…. since not all injured people report to emergency departments.” Injuries from these electronic devices have also been known to cause:
- Blast injuries
- Chemical burns
- Flame burns
- Injuries to the face, hand, and groin
Last month, a man died of a massive stroke after an e-cigarette exploded and tore through his carotid artery. According to CNN, William Brown of Fort Worth Texas, was sitting in his car outside a vape shop. He popped off the top of his vape pen and it exploded. “Brown was rushed to the hospital and his family told KTVT that he was put into a medically-induced coma and that x-rays showed that part of the e-cigarette was lodged in his throat.”
This tragic event comes just days after another man in his twenties in New York was reported to have serious burns after his E-cigarette exploded in his pocket. According to experts, 62 percent of e-cigarettes that explode do so while they are carried in a pocket. This scary percentage is still alarming to anyone who used the products.