Exploding E-Cigarette Burns 3-Year-Old Boy: Lithium Ion Battery Hazard?

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Home / Exploding E-Cigarette Burns 3-Year-Old Boy: Lithium Ion Battery Hazard?
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Although they don’t contain as many harmful chemicals, e-cigarettes still contain some that are hazardous to your health. Image by Lauri Rantala

Treating Minor Burns

Minor burns typically heal without further treatment; however look for these signs of infection: Increased pain and redness, fever, swelling, or oozing from the wound. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical treatment immediately. This young boy received second degree burns, but no word on whether he received medical treatment or not.

Exploding E-Cigarettes

So what is making these e-cigarettes explode? Decoded Science asked Dr. Clara Piccirillo, who holds a PhD in Materials Science, and she explained, “Lithium ion batteries are quite common and are used in several electronic devices, for instance mobile phones.

Problems may occur if these batteries are either overheated or overcharged; the excessive heat or electric energy can cause an increase in temperature which, in turn, can occasionally lead to combustion.

Short-circuits can also cause an overheating, which can lead to combustion/explosion. Normally all electronic devices which use these batteries have safety features to avoid this. For instance, the battery has to be made in a way to avoid overcharging or has to have an “automatic shut-off” element which avoids the overheating.

With these elements in place, the probability of an explosion happening are very very small. Lithium ion batteries do not contain toxic elements (differently from other batteries, which may contain cadmium for instance); hence there is no direct risk for health in using them in cigarettes.”

E-Cigarette Explosions

Electronic cigarettes have been known to help people stop smoking, but may not be any more useful than the nicotine patch as one study concluded. This isn’t the first time an electronic cigarette has exploded either. These electronic cigarettes have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and due to inconstant regulations, anyone can buy them online. While they do not contain the same number of chemicals as traditional cigarettes, they do contain carcinogens that are harmful to your health – even if they don’t explode.

Resources:

Daily Mail. Boy, 3, suffers second-degree burns after mom’s e-cigarette explodes in charger and his car seat catches fire. (2013). Accessed September 25, 2013.

Mayo Clinic. Burns First Aid. (2012). Accessed September 25, 2013.

New York Daily News. Utah boy burned after mom’s charging e-cigarette explodes in car. (2013). Accessed September 25, 2013.

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