A teenage boy was injured after a vape pen exploded in his mouth last year.
Austin Adams, 17 at the time of the incident last March, was using the e-cigarette at home when it exploded, fracturing his jaw and causing him to lose several teeth, according to The New York Times.
“He was bleeding really bad,” Austin’s mother, Kailani Burton, told the Times. “It looked like a hole in his chin.”
Burton drove her son to the local hospital in Ely, Nevada, before rushing more than 200 miles to a better-equipped trauma center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“I was so worried driving. I almost hit a wild horse,” she said.
The doctors who treated Austin were shocked at the severity of his injuries from the vape.
“I had no idea that these vape pens could blow up and cause serious injury,” said Dr. Katie Russell, who submitted Austin’s case to the New England Journal of Medicine to raise awareness about the dangerous side of vaping.
“This technology hit the market by storm and people are not aware,” she told the Times. “But the fact is they can burn you. They can explode in your pocket. They can explode in your face. I think there’s a health concern.”
While the Food and Drug Administration does not keep a tally of e-cigarette explosions, according to the Times, it does ask for submissions of such incidents on its website.
“You may have heard that e-cigarettes, or ‘vapes,’ can explode and seriously injure people,” the FDA says on its site. “Although they appear rare, these explosions are dangerous. The exact causes of such incidents are not yet clear, but some evidence suggests that battery-related issues may lead to vape explosions.”
While Austin’s doctors are not exactly sure how his vape exploded, Russell suspects it had to do with the battery, per the Times’ report.
“I just want people to know that it can be dangerous,” Burton told the Times, adding that Austin has since graduated from high school and quit using e-cigarettes.
CNN reported two cases in which vape users died after their e-cigarettes exploded in their face, as well as several other cases with bad injuries. And according to a BMJ study published in 2018, there were “an estimated 2035 e-cigarette explosion and burn injuries presenting to US hospital emergency departments” from 2015-2017.
While the only way to ensure that a vape won’t malfunction is to avoid using them altogether, the FDA suggests users make sure they don’t mix batteries, keep safety features intact, and avoid leaving the vape pen in extremely hot or cold temperatures.
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