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e-Cigarette explosions and burn injuries underestimated in US

The number of e-cigarette explosion and burn injuries have been underestimated by Federal Agencies in the US, according to a George Mason University study. These injuries were thought to occur rarely – but there is no national surveillance system to monitor e-cigarette caused explosion and burn injuries.

Electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes) are devices commonly powered by a battery that aerosolize liquid and chemical flavorants. These products have become popular among people of all ages, especially youth. Some users may think of e-cigarettes as a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes. However, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the aerosol that e-cigarette consumers breathe in and exhale includes addictive as well as harmful substances such as nicotine, ultrafine particles, chemical flavorants linked to serious lung disease, volatile organic compounds, heavy metals and cancer causing agents.

In addition, e-cigarettes powered by lithium-ion batteries have been documented to ignite and/or explode. These explosions have resulted in severe injuries, including third degree burns, lacerations, loss of body parts (including eye, tongue, and teeth), and death.

A new report published in Tobacco Control found that there are far more e-cigarette explosion and burn injuries in the United States than estimated in past reports.

This study led by Dr Matthew Rossheim in the Department of Global and Community Health used data from the US 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.

The report calls for improved surveillance of e-cigarette injuries and better regulation of the products by the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products. In the meantime, users and bystanders risk serious bodily injury from unregulated e-cigarette batteries exploding.

Electronic cigarette explosion and burn injuries, US Emergency Departments 2015–2017

Abstract

Electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) battery failure can result in explosions and burn injuries. Previous attempts to quantify these events has been limited to compilations of case studies, federal agency reports and media reports. Although e-cigarette explosions and burn injuries are thought to be rare, current surveillance methods likely underestimate actual occurrences.

Methods

Analyses were conducted on cross-sectional data from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). A keyword search of case narrative text was used to identify e-cigarette-related explosion and burn injuries presenting to US emergency departments from 2015 to 2017. Sampling weights were applied to make conservative national incidence estimates.

Results

From 2015 to 2017, there were an estimated 2035 e-cigarette explosion and burn injuries presenting to US hospital emergency departments (95% CI 1107 to 2964).

Conclusions

There are more e-cigarette explosion and burn injuries in the USA than estimated in the past reports. Improved surveillance of e-cigarette injuries and regulation of e-cigarette devices is urgently needed. NEISS could be a valuable resource for e-cigarette injury surveillance.

Authors

Matthew E Rossheim, Melvin D Livingston, Eric K Soule, Helen A Zerayeand Dennis L Thombs

[link url="https://chhs.gmu.edu/news/571751"]Article by George Mason University[/link]

[link url="https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/early/2018/09/15/tobaccocontrol-2018-054518?rss=1"]Article in the Tobacco Control journal[/link]

 

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