Reports of e-cig battery explosions have become far and fewer in between, however the researchers of the current paper believe in the need for a thorough review of these cases, in order to educate the public about battery safety. The review titled, “Burn injuries caused by e-cigarette explosions: A systematic review of published cases,” looked through CINAHL and PubMed, for such documented cases using keywords such as electronic cigarette, e-cigarette, vape, etc. together with the term ‘explosion’.
Most vapes are powered by 18650-style batteries, which can vary in chemistries and voltages. Therefore vapers should only use batteries recommended by the manufacturer.
Peer-reviewed articles were selected if they were written in English and described case reports of burn injuries. They were then categorized by demographics, location of the e-cigarette explosion, burned body areas, types of burns, total body surface area of burns, the need for skin grafting, and the length of hospital stay.
A total of thirty-one articles, reporting a combined total of 164 cases were selected. The compiled data found that most patients (90%) were males aged between 20 to 29 years. The majority of cases (65%) reported e-cigarettes explosions in users’ pockets, in comparison to explosions in the face or hand.
The most commonly injured areas included the thigh, hand, genitals, and face, and in 35% of the cases the burn severity was a second-degree burns or a combination of second-degree and third-degree burns (20%). A total of 48 patients required skin grafting, and 19 required a median hospital stay of 5 days.
UK campaign promotes battery safety
Meanwhile in the UK, the OPSS together with the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), has launched a campaign to promote battery safety. Most vapes and e-cigarettes are powered by 18650-style batteries, which are slightly larger than the common AA batteries. Since these can vary in chemistries and voltages, insists the campaign, vapers should only use batteries recommended by the manufacturer.
“There have been numerous reports of hazardous failure modes of the devices containing these batteries, resulting in serious injury and also death,” said product safety lead officer at CTSI Mark Gardiner. “Where products are supplied with the battery already installed, the manufacturer of this device has generally added a battery management system to ensure safe charging and discharging.”
London fire brigade fights an average of 24 battery-related fires a week
The London Fire Brigade is said to attend to approximately 24 fires per week caused by batteries, chargers and so forth, and both the London Fire Brigade and OPSS have said that e-cigarettes should not be left to charge overnight. Additionally added the entities, e-cig batteries should be protected from extreme temperatures, and the devices should be unplugged once fully charged, while spare batteries should be stowed away from metal items.
“Problems can arise when an unsuitable battery is used either by the retailer or when the consumer puts in a replacement, with many consumers seeking a battery which is either the cheapest available or holds the maximum charge,” added Gardiner.