Clearing the Air About Vaping

smoking with a vape penVape pens. E-cigs. Mods. PVs.

The formal name is Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS). Whatever you call it, we are discovering that vaping is bad news for the user.

E-cigarettes work by heating a cartridge of liquid, often called e-juice, to produce an aerosol that users inhale into their lungs. The cartridge can contain nicotine, THC and CBD oils, or other substances, supplements, and additives. Nicotine cartridges can be purchased in a range of concentrations that are much higher than tobacco cigarettes.

Eliminating combustible tobacco seems like an improvement from conventional cigarettes, but e-cigarettes are not harmless or safe. In fact, a recent study links lung cancer to vaping in mice.

What Chemicals are Used in Vaping?

While e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, they do contain harmful chemicals, such as:

  • Nicotine – a highly addictive substance; adversely effects the heart, reproductive system, lungs, kidneys; can cause irritation to the mouth and throat, increased salivation, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea; can increase pulse rate and blood pressure; can impact brain development; known carcinogen
  • Formaldehyde – can cause burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat, coughing, wheezing and nausea; known carginogen
  • Acetaldehyde – can cause irritation of the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract; can cause erythema, coughing, pulmonary edema, and necrosis; known carcinogen
  • Acrolien – can cause irritation of the nose and throat; can cause dizziness, nausea, headache, and loss of consciousness; can cause coughing and/or shortness of breath; known carcinogen
  • Glycerin and/or propylene glycol – approved for food products, not for inhaling into lungs; can cause sore throat, muscle cramps and aches; long-term effects unknown
  • Benzoic acid – can cause irritation to the nose, throat and lungs, may cause coughing, wheezing and/or shortness of breath
  • 8,000+ flavorings – approved for food products, not for inhaling into lungs; may be toxic or cause irritation

What are the Health Risks of Vaping?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state and local health departments, and other clinical and public health partners are currently investigating a multistate outbreak of lung injury associated with use of vaping products.

As of October 1, 2019, over 1,000 lung injury cases associated with e-cigarettes have been reported to the CDC from 48 states. Eighteen deaths have been confirmed.

Product Content Safety

Beyond toxic chemical exposure, vaping product are frequently altered, which produces additional health risks. E-cigarette users may not know what is in the solutions they inhale, because products and substances are often modified by suppliers or by the users themselves. E-liquids can be custom-mixed by individuals at home without safety regulations. Even commercial e-liquids are produced with unknown manufacturing procedures, packing materials, and purity standards.

Inhalation vs. Ingestion

Some e-liquid ingredients are FDA approved – as food – intended to enter the body through the digestive system.  What is good for the stomach is typically not good for the lungs. For instance, you drink liquid water, but you would not want to inhale it! 

E-cigarettes also produce high doses of ultrafine particles in the human respiratory system. These particles have been linked to cardiovascular disease in smokers. Early evidence suggests the same may apply to particles in e-cigarette aerosol.

Nicotine Overdose

Liquid nicotine and smokeless tobacco products are the leading causes of nicotine poisoning. As of September 30, the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), have managed 3.583 nicotine exposure cases related to e-cigarette devices and liquid nicotine in 2019.

One tobacco cigarette delivers about 1 mg of nicotine. The amount of nicotine in a single e-cigarette cartridge can be as much as the amount of nicotine in an entire pack of 20 cigarettes.

Many vaping products are designed to enter the bloodstream more rapidly and to be more enjoyable than smoking – less harsh with fun flavors. This entices the user to consume more product, thus more nicotine.

A mild nicotine overdose typically lasts 1-2 hours. Severe poisoning can last up to 24 hours, and may have long-term effects.

Nicotine poisoning usually happens in two stages. Early symptoms occur within the first 15 minutes to an hour:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Increased salivation
  • Rapid, heavy breathing
  • Increased and/or abnormal heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Pale skin
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Anxiety
  • Hearing
  • Vision changes
  • Dizziness, loss of balance and/or confusion

Late-phase symptoms usually begin between 30 minutes to four hours after exposure:

  • Diarrhea
  • Shallow breathing
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lethargy, feeling of weakness
  • Slow reflexes
  • Inability to control muscles
  • Seizures

According to the Archives of Toxicology, 30 to 60 mg of nicotine is considered lethal in adults. While nicotine overdose fatalities are not common in adults, the product is widely used by adolescents, whose smaller statures create a higher risk of poisoning. 

Over- exposure can also occur through skin contact and ingestion. Swallowing e-liquid can be toxic. It can be harmful if you spill some on your skin or get some in your eye.

Device Explosions

Safety surrounding e-cigarettes have been a concern since the devices were first released in 2007, with numerous reports of explosions and malfunctions across the U.S. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began regulating e-cigarettes in May of 2016 and identified 66 explosions in 2015 and early 2016, along with 92 explosions between 2009 and 2015. 

The devices can unexpectedly blow up, causing flame burns, chemical burns, and severe damage to the face, hands, thighs or groin. Evidence suggests that the lithium-ion batteries that power the e-cigarettes may be the cause.

On June 20, 2019, a vape pen exploded in the face of a 17-year-old boy in Nevada, breaking his jaw and shattering his teeth. Multiple surgeries were required to repair the damage.

If you, or someone you know, has been injured as a result of an e-cigarette or vaping product, contact the attorneys at the Arnold Law Firm at (916) 777-7777 to discuss your legal options at no cost or obligation.