E-cigarette explodes in Utah teen’s mouth shattering jaw, teeth

by NCN Health And Science Team Posted on June 20th, 2019

A teenager was rushed to hospital with horrific injuries after an e-cigarette exploded in his mouth shattering his jaw and dislodging his teeth.

The 17-year-old boy was treated for a circular puncture wound to the chin, extensive deep cuts in his mouth, bone damage to his lower jaw and dislodged lower teeth, according to a report in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Doctors in Utah worked to fix the jaw fracture, removed teeth and other tissue.

But the patient, who wasn’t named in the study, needed a dental plate put under his lower gums to stabilize his jawbone, Dr. Katie Russell from the University of Utah Health Care, told Live Science.

His mouth still wouldn’t close properly, so doctors wired his jaw shut for six weeks to give it time to heal, Dr. Russell, who treated the patient, said.

“The increasing prevalence of vaping among adolescents is a public health concern,” Dr. Russell wrote in the report.

“At the six-week follow-up assessment, the patient had recovered well.”

There were 32 reported cases of injuries or poisonings related to vaping products including e-cigarettes between January 2013 and August 2018 in Canada, according to government figures.

Seventy-eight per cent of the injuries reported were poisonings from ingesting vaping liquid, 92 per cent of which were among children aged four or younger.

Nine per cent of the remaining patients were burned from e-cigarettes exploding or catching fire.

More than 60 per cent of the patients injured were male and eight-out-of-ten of the injuries happened in the home.

How common is this?

An exploding vaporizer pen resulted in the death of William Brown, a 24-year-old Texas man, a post-mortem examination ruled. The pen’s battery blew up when William Brown tried to use it, sending shards of metal into his face and neck and severing an artery. He died two days later in hospital of a stroke, in what is at least the second such death in the US.

Last May, a 38-year-old Florida man was also killed by an exploding vape pen. Tallmadge D’Elia was burned on 80% of his body and died when metal pieces entered his skull.

A US government report says there have been 195 documented cases of exploding e-cigarettes between 2009 and 2016.

The National Fire Data Center found 29% of exploding vape pen incidents from January 2009 to December 2016 had caused severe injuries.

Another report from the University of North Texas Health Science Center looked at US emergency room data from 2015 to 2017 and found 2,035 e-cigarette related explosion and burn injuries – far more than previous reports.

The researchers said regulation and surveillance of e-cigarette devices “is urgently needed”.

Are vape pens safe?

According to the US Fire Administration, between 2009-16 there were 195 separate incidents of explosions and fires involving an e-cigarette, resulting in 133 acute injuries, 38 of them severe.

In 2015, an e-cigarette exploded in the face of a 29-year-old Colorado man, breaking his neck and shattering his teeth.

A fire in January this year at Denver International Airport was blamed on a vape pen’s lithium-ion battery.

For safety, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US recommends:

  • using vapes with safety features, like protection against overcharging
  • keeping your vape covered and away from loose coins and batteries
  • using only the approved charger that came with the vape pen to charge it
  • replacing batteries if they get damaged or wet
  • not charging your vape overnight

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