E-Cigarette Poisoning: Liquid Nicotine The Cause?

By: Tina Volpe - April 5, 2014

E-cigarettes have been on the rise for those trying to quit smoking and for people who just want to replace smoking tobacco with something less deadly. But is that really the case?

As those little electronic vaping devices gain popularity, the poison control centers have had a surge in phone calls involving e-cigarettes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Thursday.

In February alone, there were 215 poison center calls claiming nicotine poisoning, the CDC said in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Compared to one per month in September 2010, this is disturbing news.

What is most disturbing is that 51 percent of those calls involved children 5 and under, officials said.

Since not all poisonings get reported, the CDC said the total number of cases is likely even higher.

What appears to be misunderstood is that nicotine is a drug, and in its concentrated liquid form, poison experts warn it is also significantly toxic, even in small doses. E-cigarettes, which are not required to be childproof, entice children with flavors like vanilla, banana and bubble gum.

“What’s attractive to kids: It’s the smell. It’s the scent. It’s the color,” said Gaylord Lopez, director of the Georgia Poison Center. “A kid’s not going to know the difference between a poison and something they can drink.”

An Oklahoma mother found out the hard way when her 4-year-old son got his hands on the liquid nicotine used to refill her e-cigarettes.

“We hear a little noise, come in and he has taken the lid off of all of them and has this liquid everywhere. He’s got it all over him. He’s been eating it,” Ren Gaulrapp told CNN affiliate KFOR.

Her son was rushed to the emergency room and vomited all day long.

It isn’t just vaping the liquid nicotine that is dangerous, it can be poisonous when absorbed on the skin, mouth or eyes. It can even be deadly, as one person proved, when they injected the liquid to commit suicide, the CDC reported.

Lopez said his poison center has also taken calls from adults who’ve spilled e-cigarette nicotine on themselves while filling up the devices.

Since there is currently no regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), poison control experts claim that the liquid in bottles or cartridges have been known to break or leak and need better control practices.

“There’s no legislation on the books right now,” Lopez said. “A product as dangerous as this, as lethal as this, child-resistant caps would be a great help.”

Image via YouTube

About the Author

Tina VolpeTina Volpe is an author, freelance writer and a college student. She loves spending time with her rescued feathered and furry friends... cooking Italian food, reading, writing, hiking and dreams of a huge animal sanctuary. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Google+

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  • Robert Copia

    On March 23, 2014, the New York Times published an article by Matt Richtel, “Selling A Poison, Liquid Nicotine For E-Cigs”. The article is based on the FACT that pure liquid nicotine is extremely dangerous to have around. Ingesting it can kill a person and exposure to the skin is also very dangerous.
    E-liquid should be prepared by a chemist or someone with training to deal with hazardous materials. In regards to the finished product the cartridges or the bottles of e-liquid, pure liquid nicotine accounts for zero to 3.6% of the solution. If you get it on your hands wash them, if some leaks into your mouth rinse thoroughly with water.
    E-cig liquid and cartridges should be kept out of reach of children along with other hazardous items around the house such as prescription drugs, cosmetics, cleaners, plants toothpaste etc.
    Fluoride toothpaste contains sodium fluoride which is a hazardous waste product from making fertilizer. It is used in rat poison and pesticides.
    Children have died from eating toothpaste and fluoride treatments.
    Nicotine gum and lozenges are also hazardous if ingested by children.
    Mr. Richtel reports that there were 1351 calls to poison control and 365 emergency room visits in 2013, involving e-liquid.
    The Centers for Disease Control reports :
    1. 832,000 people were seen in the ER room due to unintentional poisonings in 2013.
    2. 91% of the 39,000 poisoning deaths in 2013 were the result of drug overdose.
    3. 60,000 children each year are in the ER room each year because of drug poisoning.
    National Institute of Health- Tylenol (acetaminophen) overdose, leading cause of liver failure,
    78,000 E room visits, 38,000 hospitlizations, 150 deaths per year in the U.S.
    The New York Times had the paper and the ink necessary to provide information on other poisoning dangers around the home.
    They chose not to which makes me believe that the liquid nicotine article is part of the campaign to put ecigs out of business and protect the Pharmaceutical Industry, which sells expensive smoking cessation products which include the mind altering, psychiatric drugs Chantix and Zyban and their dangerous side effects, suicide risk etc.
    BLOOMBERG News, Feb 19, 2014, “Glaxo Memo Shows Drug Industry Lobbying On E-Cigarettes”
    Glaxo and Pfizer sell gum and lozenges containing NICOTINE. The mini lozenges look like Tic Tacs and could easily be mistaken for candy. The Nicotrol inhaler uses cartridges that contain LIQUID NICOTINE and nasal spray contains liquid nicotine and six other chemicals.. These facts are not mentioned in the current ecig poisoning scare.
    Drug companies contributed eleven million dollars to politicians in the 2010-11 election cycle and spend a fortune on advertising. The recipients of this MONEY are no doing the their bidding to destroy their competition, Big Pharma vs. “little ecigs”.
    This PROPOGANDA campaign makes ecigs out as a “GATEWAY” which will lead children to actual smoking. RIDICOLOUS.
    The Center For Disease Control, “33% OF 8TH graders drank alcohol in the last 30 days”
    National Institute of Health, “23% of high school seniors used marijuana in the last 30 days and 6.5% use it daily. These facts do not seem to concern the politicians..
    A fear campaign aimed at ‘hopelessly addicted smokers” to dissuade them from trying a “personal nicotine vaporizer”. How disgusting.

  • http://www.eliquids.ie/ Kate Stone

    Electronic cigarettes are not a 100% healthy alternative to traditional smoking. However there is no doubts that comparing to analog cigarettes are less harmful.

    The most important is to use good quality liquids from checked source. I am using e liquid Eirhorse BH. These e liquids were tested by CMA Trinity Dublin so I know what I am inhaling.

    http://www.electronic-cigarette.ie