E-cigarettes have been rising in popularity since they hit the market, but safety concerns have arisen due to reports of exploding e-cigarettes. A Kalamazoo man was recently burned when his vaping device exploded in his hand. “Took a couple of puffs off of it, had it between my fingers, looked down and my hand was on fire,” he said to News Channel 3 in Kalamazoo, MI. “The whole thing just completely exploded.”
“You don’t know when they’re going to explode, maybe some of them don’t, I don’t know, but they told me luckily I did not have it in my mouth because it would have put my eye out,” he said. The man, who did not want to be identified, suffered third degree burns.
In 2014, 2.5 million people in the United used e-cigarettes, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. That year, there were 25 reports of e-cigarettes exploding or catching on fire.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, a number of e-cigarette explosions occur while the device is charging its lithium-ion batteries. “When the battery seal (at the end of the battery) ruptures, the pressure within the e-cigarette cylinder builds quickly and instantly ruptures, usually at the end. As a result of the battery and container failure, one or the other, or both, can be propelled across the room like a bullet or small rocket.” USFA says.
E-cigarettes use a type of lithium battery cell called the 18650, which can either be “protected” or “unprotected”. The protected version has three ways to prevent issues such as overheating, while the unprotected type use only two. Reportedly, most 18650 batteries in e-cigarettes are unprotected. Trade publication eCig One conducted an analysis of the 151 e-cigarette explosions reported in the news; 41 occurred during use, 69 while charging, 25 during transport or storage and 16 involved removable batteries outside the device.
Currently, there are few regulations regarding e-cigarettes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed rules to regulate the devices in April 2014 and recently submitted its Final Rule for review.