Mason report finds e-cigarette explosions, injuries are more common than previously thought

Some people may think of e-cigarettes as a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , the aerosol that e-cigarette consumers breathe in and exhale includes harmful substances linked to cancer and serious lung disease. A recent study by Mason professor Matthew Rossheim found that federal agencies have underestimated another hazard of vaping.

By analyzing data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Rossheim found that the number of e-cigarette explosions are much higher than previously recorded. These explosions have resulted in severe injuries including third-degree burns, lacerations, loss of fingers, teeth, and eyes, and even death.

“This study identifies that e-cigarette burn and explosion injuries are not rare, as was recently thought,” said Rossheim. He added that explosions are even powerful enough to harm bystanders.

His study found more than 40 times the number of injuries reported by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 2009 to 2015 and 15 times the number of injuries reported by the U.S. Fire Administration from 2009 to 2016.

He estimates in his report that 2,035 e-cigarette explosion and burn injuries resulted in visits to hospital emergency departments in the United States from 2015 to 2017. Rossheim believes that it is likely that his estimate is still low since not all injured people report to emergency departments.

The malfunctions are believed to be caused by batteries overheating to the point of catching fire or exploding, Rossheim said, which could be due to materials, design, manufacturing and handling.

Rossheim and his team will continue to monitor data from the CPSC. His report, published in Tobacco Control, calls for improved surveillance of e-cigarette injuries and better regulation of the products by the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.

“In the meantime, users and bystanders risk serious bodily injury from unregulated e-cigarette batteries exploding,” Rossheim said.