A recent vape device explosion has increased concerns for the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Already, the FDA has recommendations to avoid “vape” battery explosions. The latest explosion in September 2018 mimicked a smoke bomb detonation in a vehicle. One passenger was airlifted to a hospital, and the driver suffered severe burns.
The vape device shattered and exploded, causing a fire in the vehicle and burning a hole in the driver’s seat. The driver had allegedly recently purchased new batteries for the device.
As we’ve covered, vape pens have posed dangers for years. In May 2018, the first known fatality from an exploding vape pen was reported. Vape pens’ lithium-ion batteries are thought to be the cause of vape pen explosions, which have also caused house fires. The batteries are the same ones used in cell phones, laptops and other electronics. Here’s the latest on the dangers of vape pens and how to stay protected.
The first modern electronic cigarette, or vape pen, was invented in 2003. Since then, vape pens have become commonplace and can even take the form of actual pens or USB flash drives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that vape pens are not safe for kids, young adults, pregnant women or adults who do not currently use tobacco products. Given that they’ve caused at least 195 explosions and fires from 2009 to 2016, vape pen safety is questionable for all users.
Vaping is particularly popular with teens, who are more likely to use vape pens than cigarettes. A 2017 study reported by the American Psychiatric Association found about 13 percent of junior high students and nearly 28 percent of high schoolers in America used a vaping device in the past year.
More than 30 percent of teen vape pen users will start smoking within 6 months, compared to only 8.1 percent of teens who don’t use vape pens. Two-thirds of teens don’t realize nicotine, which can harm adolescent brain development, is in most vape pens, saying only flavoring is in the pen.
In 2018, the FDA called vaping an “epidemic” for high school students, with more than 1.7 million high school students using vaping devices on at least a monthly basis. The FDA has stated the agency may ban flavored electronic cigarettes, which attract some younger users. While vape pens have been useful in helping some adults quit smoking, the FDA is considering those benefits against the risk of kids becoming addicted to tobacco, with vaping as a gateway.
It wasn’t until only recently that the FDA required vape pens to submit product ingredients listings. Besides the sometimes harmful ingredients vape pens contain, they also may have been manufactured with inherent dangers that can cause explosions or fires at any time.
Lithium-ion batteries are dangerous because if the strip in the battery that keeps electrodes from touching is breached, the electrodes can come into contact and emit heat that causes an explosion. Some of these batteries contain a skin-burning compound, too. Since a person is often holding on to their vape pen when it explodes, these dangers become more intense.
While lithium-ion batteries are widely used in a variety of devices, minor design errors can be deadly. Anyone who uses a vape pen can protect themselves by researching the brand to investigate past problems and complaints. Some manufacturers may cut corners. That’s why buying vape pens without proper research, like buying them from a classmate or off the street, increases likelihood of danger.
The following can all contribute to an increased likelihood of lithium-ion battery failure:
- Excessive vibration
- High heat
- Batteries that are charged below freezing
When a lithium-ion battery is overheating, some warning signs to watch out for include excessive heat, hissing and bulging. It’s best to put the device in a safe place (outdoors on a non-compusitble surface) and move as far away from it as possible if you notice these signs.
Some ways to increase safety while using vape pens include to:
- Use vape devices with safety features
- Keep loose batteries in a case to prevent contact with metal objects
- Only charge the vape device with the charger that came with it, never with a phone or tablet charger
- Don’t leave a vape device charging unattended, including while you’re sleeping
- Replace the batteries if they get wet or damaged
The vape device should also come with thorough instructions and recommendations. Read all those and follow them when you use your device.
When Is the Manufacturer to Blame for Exploding Vape Pens?
Lithium-ion batteries can pose significant dangers, and it’s the manufacturer’s responsibility to keep all consumers safe, especially when these are used in vape pens. If you, your teen or a loved one is a victim of an exploding vape pen, the manufacturer’s negligence may be to blame.
Some warning signs of negligence include when a manufacturer fails to test vape pen devices altogether or rushes a product to market without proper testing, knowingly uses defective components, and doesn’t provide clear warnings to consumers about dangers.
If you or a loved one has experienced serious injuries because of an exploding vape pen, contact the Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann Birmingham defective product attorney team. We offer free consultations and can help you recover the compensation you deserve.