Lawsuits are being filed against the manufacturers of electronic cigarettes because the batteries in the devices have been known to overheat and explode during normal use, and also during charging, causing severe burns to users and property damage.
Additionally, there are allegations that the manufacturers of these products failed to warn users of the increased risk of a lung disease known as "popcorn lung."
Why are Electronic Cigarettes so Dangerous
According to injury attorneys, the most immediate concern with e-cigarettes are severe burns and property damage caused by the device exploding while smoking or during charging.
Most of the fires occur when the battery is being charged in a USB port or being carried in a person's pocket. The problem appears to be that different USB ports put out different levels of current, which can cause the battery to overheat. Additionally, if a battery is being carried in a person's pocket, it can come in contact with loose metal objects (such as keys, coins or jewelry), which can cause it to short.
The explosions often could be prevented if the manufacturers utilized overcharging technology and locking mechanisms that would prevent the devices from unintentionally activating, or by having the positive and negative leads on the batteries protected from contact with metal objects.
Another key health concern is the development of bronchiolitis obliterans, a serious lung disease that is irreversible. This disease is caused by the chemical diacetyl, which is used in many of the e-cig flavors. When the chemical is inhaled, it can cause scarring in the lungs.
A third concern is that electronic cigarette use has been found to potentially expose users to the heavy metals cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese and nickel.
While explosions are rare, the results have been very serious. Due to the potential severity, airplane passengers are not permitted to store these products in checked luggage. Instead, they must carry the devices with them on the plane.
In order to minimize the chances of a fire, it is recommended that people purchase domestically-produced products from reputable, U.S.-based companies rather than those manufactured overseas, where production standards and regulations are much weaker. Users should also avoid activating the button for more than a few seconds and overcharging the device – both of which can weaken the battery.
Symptoms of popcorn lung include coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, similar to the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Beginning in August 2018, e-cig manufacturers will be required to warn about the addictive nature of nicotine. The product packaging and marketing must state: "WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical."
What is the Purpose of E-Cigarettes
Electronic cigarettes (also known as e-cigarettes, e-cigs or vaping products) are designed to look like cigarettes, writing pens, USB flash drives and other common products.
These devices use a liquid that contains nicotine and various types of flavors, as well as propylene glycol and glycerin. The liquid is heated through the use of a battery and heating coils. The liquid becomes a vapor, where it can be inhaled, which is why its use often is referred to as "vaping". These products are officially referenced as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).
These products have been marketed as a way to help people quit conventional smoking, and to lower the risk of lung cancer. However, research shows that the opposite might be true.
A study performed by the University of California - San Francisco found that many adolescents who would not have started smoking cigarettes began first by vaping, and then moved to conventional tobacco products. It was not until August 2016 that the FDA began requiring purchasers of these devices to be eighteen years of age or older.
The first electronic cigarette was designed by Herbert Gilbert in the early 1960s. The tobacco industry refused to promote it, as it saw it as a threat to its huge tobacco market. In 2003, Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik patented what is known as the modern e-cig.
There are approximately 500 companies worldwide that manufacture and sale these devices, which has become a $7 billion industry. As of 2015, approximately 4% of all American adults used ENDS on a regular basis.
E-Cigarette Injury Videos
Electronic Nicotine Delivery System Litigation News
There are three main pieces that make these devices work. The cartridge or tank (where the liquid nicotine is stored), the atomizer (the heating element), and the battery. Of these elements, the battery, seems to be the most likely to cause the explosions. To read more, click E-Cig ReviewsE-Cigarette Fires: The Comprehensive List
People have begun to experience different types of explosions since sub-ohm vaping and mods with removable batteries have become more popular. More than ever, these fires are occurring during normal use. Explosions resulting from people carrying spare batteries in their pockets are also far more common. To read more, click E-Cig OneE-Cigarette Users Sue Over Exploding Devices
When Ms. Berven pushed the activation button, she claims the device exploded, ripping a hole in her mouth and spewing battery acid across her body. Months later, Ms. Berven is struggling to pay for dental procedures, and bears scars on her face. To read more, click Wall Street Journal
In Colorado alone last year, there were 16 explosion cases that were admitted to the UCHealth burn center, seven at Swedish Medical Center, two at Denver International Airport, two in Telluride, three in Colorado Springs and one in Greeley. In total, there were at least 34 battery explosions in Colorado in 2016, with 27 of those cases involving injuries. To read more, click Denver NewsE-cig explosions blamed for facial injuries, severe burns
Dozens of lawsuits have been filed by consumers who say their products blew up, causing serious and expensive injuries. The Food and Drug Administration has found 134 reports of overheating, fires, and explosions of the devices in the U.S. between 2009 and January 2016. To read more, click Consumer AffairsPeople Are Suing Over Exploding E-Cigarettes
Electronic cigarettes are seen by some as a safer alternative to traditional forms of smoking, though the jury is still largely out on their long-term health effects. Now, the so-called "e-cigs" are facing another safety issue, as multiple users have filed lawsuits alleging their battery-powered devices exploded and, in some cases, caused serious injuries. To read more, click Time MagazineE-cigarettes are expanding tobacco product use among youth
Electronic cigarettes are actually attracting a new population of adolescents who might not otherwise have smoked tobacco products. Researchers concluded that low-risk youths in the study, who went on to smoke regular cigarettes, may not have used nicotine at all if ENDS did not exist. To read more, click Science DailyE-cigarette Ads and Youth
Companies have rapidly increased advertising spending, from $6.4 million in 2011 to $115 million in 2014. Many of the themes used in advertising for cigarettes are also now used to advertise electronic cigarettes – including sex, independence, and rebellion. To read more, click CDC
For additional news stories, click Levin Law News
How Much Compensation can be Recovered in an Electronic Cigarette Claim
We will be seeking the following damages for you:
- Past and future medical expenses that result from physical injuries (whether burns or lung disease).
- Past and future mental pain and suffering caused by your physical injuries, and the treatment and recovery process.
- Past and future wage loss, if any.
- Other economic losses you might have sustained as a result of e-cigarette harm (such as property damage).
- Punitive damages, if appropriate.
As of this time, there has not been a recall of electronic cigarettes related to burns or lung disease. However, it was not until 2016 that the FDA received the authority to regulate these devices.
The FDA has scheduled formal science-based public hearings to start in April 2017 to gather information regarding the cause and prevention of battery explosions.
As of this time, there have been no large group settlements involving burns or popcorn lung. Generally, however, large groups of settlements do not occur until such time as a few cases are tried before a jury, and the manufacturer is able to more thoroughly understand its financial risk.