A growing number of catastrophic injuries caused by exploding e-cigarettes prompted U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) to demand federal action he hopes will better protect consumers, according to the Associated Press.
Schumer expressed frustration that neither the federal government nor the e-cigarette industry have determined how to address the product’s instability. Several high profile incidents this year involved some of Schumer’s constituents including Katrina Williams, Otis Gooding, Ricardo Jimenez and Leor Domatov, a 14-year-old who the New York Daily News reported was partially blinded from an e-cigarette explosion at a Brooklyn mall in April.
The Chicago Tribune reports that recent information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shows an increase in the number and frequency of e-cigarette explosions nationwide – confirming anecdotal evidence described by the Beasley Allen law firm. The FDA identified 66 explosions in 2015 and early 2016, which is approximately only one-third fewer than the 92 explosions identified over a six-year period (2009- September 2015). However, the information is likely an undercount of incidents.
Schumer called on the FDA and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to determine the cause of the alarming increase in exploding e-cigarettes – noting that many of the devices are from China. Victims have suffered second- and third-degree burns to the face, legs and arms, requiring skin grafts. Others have been partially blinded, lost teeth, and experience long-term pain.
The explosions have been linked to overheating of the lithium-ion batteries that power electronic smoking devices. The lithium-ion batteries have caused similar problems in hoverboards and various smartphones.