Nader Harb, a butcher from Ohio recently filed a lawsuit against LG Chem, a division of LG Corps for a battery-caused vape pen explosion that left him with a large, graphic burn on his right thigh . According to Harb, he was using an LGHG2 battery manufactured by the South-Korean chemical company to power his vape pen. He also filed a suit against Cleveland Vape, the local e-cigarette retailer that sold him the device.
According to Harb who had been in his shop that day in June, he hadn’t been using the vape pen or attempting to use it when the incident occurred. The device flashed for a bit and subsequently exploded right there in his pocket. Harb had been a heavy smoker for a long time but after 25 years of burning tobacco, he decided to try out vaping which is generally believed to have fewer health risks than smoking.
Worse than being run over by a car
Speaking to WKYC, Harb said he’d never experienced anything as excruciating as the burns he suffered from the accident .
“The pain, I never felt before,” Harb said. “I mean, I got cut by machines, I got run over by a car, I’ve never seen pain like this.”
Harb said his clothes had caught fire from the explosion, and according to the doctor, that alone could have killed him if he hadn’t reflexively rolled over to put out the flames. He was immediately driven to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland where he was treated for second and third-degree burns. He survived the incident, but he’s now left with a permanent scar the size of a mini-football on his right thigh.
Harb was deeply upset with the incident and decided to sue the companies that provided the battery and device to him. The damage could have been a lot worse and might have caused more harm if it hadn’t been on him at that moment.
“Imagine if I wasn’t home and this took on fire and burned the house with pets, with my kids,” he said. “They need to be held accountable for this. They can’t put stuff on the street like that.”
According to Tom Merriman, Harb’s attorney, more regulatory laws should be made to protect consumers from substandard vaping devices and batteries.
“This is the wild, wild west these batteries, there’s virtually no regulation, the FDA’s come up with rules focused on the health effects of vaping and the issue of whether teenagers can be vaping, but there is no regulation on the device itself or the batteries. Imagine if this happened in the middle of the night, imagine if he’s asleep or there’s a family with kids, a house full of kids we could be talking about a far more serious tragedy,” Merriman said.
Vape pen explosions on a consistent rise
This isn’t the first time an e-cig explosion is seriously hurting someone. A 2018 report from the British Medical Journal estimated that between 2015 and 2017, 2,035 persons have been victims of vape pen explosions, some of who were mildly injured, severely burned, or killed in the accidents . Most of these explosions were found to have been caused by faulty or unsuitable batteries powering the devices. A safer energy source for e-cigarettes has not been discovered yet and the batteries seem to constitute tragedies waiting to happen.
In January 2019, a 24-year-old from Texas died in a vape pen explosion in his car, after a fragment severed the carotid artery in his neck, causing a major stroke . He had been trying to operate a mechanical mod style vape pen when the accident happened. He died two days later in the hospital.
Another viral report was of a 17-year-old who had his jaws and teeth shattered when his vape pen exploded right in his mouth . The case was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The teen had to go undergo two reparative procedures to fix his injuries as best as the surgeons could. He is now left with a semi-circular cleft in his chin, but he’s striving hard to create awareness on the dangers of vaping with this experience.
Vaping isn’t as safe as everyone thinks
Truthfully, vaping is less harmful than traditional tobacco smoking, but its by no means 100% safe. These devices are largely better than cigarettes because they do not produce the same chemicals and there is no smoky combustion. However, vapes have been found to incur a certain degree of heart and lung damage in the body. Most people switch to vaping as a way to quit traditional smoking. While this is arguably a step in the right direction, there are risks to consider as well.
The e-cigarette liquids are mostly made up of nicotine, glycerol, propylene glycol, ethylene glycol, flavorings and other chemicals, some of which can be harmful to the body . Vaping doesn’t involve combustion because the liquid is vaporized by the device and inhaled by an aerosol.
Whether it’s vaping, juuling (the only difference is in the manufacturing brands), or any other activity that involves inhalation of vapor from an electronic cigarette, a measure of harm could be inflicted on the vital organs.
Nicotine is a powerful stimulant and is highly addictive. It raises the blood pressure, spikes adrenaline levels and increases the risk of atherosclerosis . However, there is some controversy, some say that nicotine is not the issue and its the other byproducts that come along with smoking that are the issue. In other words vaping should theoretically be ok. Though, there is some evidence showing that nicotine, regardless of the source, can increase the risk of heart attacks , and that includes vaping .
The amount of nicotine packed into different kinds of vapes and JUULs varies largely with the manufacturers. JUUL claims it uses 2.7 times more nicotine than many other e-cigarette manufacturers . According to a review on WebMD, “The CDC says 50 to 60 milligrams of nicotine is a deadly dose for an adult who weighs about 150 pounds. But some research suggests a lethal amount may be a lot higher .”
Early nicotine use, especially in teenagers, could impair brain development, alter nerve cell functioning and increase the chances of young people going for traditional cigarettes in the future .
Vapes and JUULs can also cause lung damage and respiratory diseases. A lot of teens juuling and vaping are hooked by the flavorings of these devices, some of which are sweetened. Diacetyl, acetoin, and 2,3-pentanedione are three commonly used compounds in creating addictive flavors for these vapes. Alteration to lung function, respiratory inflammation, and vulnerability to infection are some of the risks that occur as molecules from these compounds may progressively get stuck in the lungs tissues .
If you’re looking to stop lighting up and quit traditional smoking, vaping may be a viable option. However, staying away from both is probably better for our health over all. As you can see, the e-cigarette industry is relatively young, and outside of the potential long term dangers of vaping, there are also some dangerous issues with certain aspects of the technology itself. If you’re looking for some more detail the ins and outs of e-cigarettes, check out this helpful guide.
- Staff writer. Man left with volleyball-sized third-degree burn after his vape battery exploded in his pocket said the pain was worse than when he was run over by a car. Mail Online. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-7209775/Man-left-volleyball-sized-degree-burn-vape-battery-exploded.html. Retrieved 19-07-19
- Serino, Danielle. Smoking didn’t kill him, but a vape battery almost did. WKYC. https://www.wkyc.com/article/news/health/smoking-didnt-kill-him-but-a-vape-battery-almost-did/95-5166bbfa-d7e8-4fa8-a1e9-b10a002e96e3. Retrieved 19-07-19
- Rossheim et al. Electronic cigarette explosion and burn injuries, US Emergency Departments 2015–2017. BMJ. https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/28/4/472. Retrieved 19-07-19
- Nisbet, Jordan. Another man dies after vape pen explodes, severing an artery in his throat. The Hearty Soul. https://theheartysoul.com/another-man-dies-after-vape-pen-explodes-severing-an-artery-in-his-throat/ Retrieved 19-07-19
- Contributor. Is Vaping Better Than Smoking? Heart.org https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/quit-smoking-tobacco/is-vaping-safer-than-smoking. Retrieved 19-07-19
- Editor. 17-year-old Gets His Jaws and Teeth Shattered in a Vape Pen Explosion. The Hearty Soul. https://theheartysoul.com/vape-pen-explosion-hurts-17-year-old/. Retrieved 19-07-19
- Armitage, A.K. EFFECTS OF NICOTINE AND TOBACCO SMOKE ON BLOOD PRESSURE AND RELEASE OF CATECHOL AMINES FROM THE ADRENAL GLANDS. Wiley. https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1476-5381.1965.tb02069.x.
- https://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/nicotine-poisoning-can-you-overdose. Retrieved 19-07-19
- Axe, Josh. What Juuling Does to Your Body (It’s Not Pretty). The Hearty Soul. https://theheartysoul.com/what-juuling-does-to-your-body/. Retrieved 19-07-19
- Contributor. How much nicotine is in JUUL? Truth Initiative. https://truthinitiative.org/research-resources/emerging-tobacco-products/how-much-nicotine-juul. Retrieved 19-07-19
- Contributor. Dangers of vaping. Family Health. https://familydoctor.org/dangers-of-vaping/. Retrieved 19-07-19
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