In recent years, e-cigarettes (also known as vapes) have gained in popularity. The primary reason seems to be that they are perceived as being safer than regular cigarettes. Vaping also helps people avoid the odor of tobacco on clothes, furnishings and automobile interiors. In some cases, e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking altogether.
But is vaping really safe? At this point, the evidence is unclear. One study led by researchers at University College London concluded that e-cigarettes are “far safer and less toxic than smoking conventional tobacco cigarettes”. But other studies that tested many flavors of liquids used in e-cigarettes found that the liquids contained levels of diacetyl and acetyl propionyl, chemicals that have been associated with respiratory diseases such as popcorn lung. In addition, e-cigarettes pose significant fire and explosion risks.
What is clear is that much more research must be done to properly evaluate the risks of vaping.
Toxic chemicals found in e-cigarettes
There are dozens of e-cigarette brands and hundreds of e-cigarette flavors. Manufacturers vie to gain a competitive edge by creating unique vaping experiences through the combination of nicotine and various artificial ingredients. But what’s really in e-cigarette vapor?
A study by researchers at Harvard University found that 39 of 51 vaping flavors contained diacetyl. This is a toxic chemical that has been linked to bronchiolitis obliterans (also known as popcorn lung) in workers who manufacture microwave popcorn products. Other studies have shown that some vaping flavors contain other potentially toxic chemicals including benzene, formaldehyde, benzaldehyde, cadmium, isoprene and acetone.
And it’s not just e-cigarette users who are at risk. There is some evidence that people who are regularly exposed to “second-hand vapor” may suffer adverse health consequences.
Fire and explosion risks
There are no comprehensive statistics covering fires and explosions caused by use of e-cigarettes. But those risks are real. In 2015, a woman suffered second-degree burns after an e-cigarette battery exploded. She successfully sued the wholesaler, distributor and retailer and recovered an award of $1.9 million. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has compiled a list of explosions and fires related to e-cigarettes. The agency counted 92 explosion from 2009 to September 2015, and 66 explosions from 2015 to 2016. These explosions all involved lithium-ion batteries, the same batteries that have caused numerous hoverboard and smartphone fires.
People who have suffered harm through the use of e-cigarettes may be able to recover compensation for their financial losses and pain and suffering. They should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney concerning their legal options.