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    Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire, especially with E-Cigarettes

    Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire, especially with E-Cigarettes

    Photo By Douglas Stutz | If a picture is worth a thousand words...Where there’s smoke, there’s...... read more read more

    Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

    Especially with electronic-cigarettes (e-cigs).

    Lost in the haze about any health hazards to e-cig users, there are smoldering safety issues to consider.

    There have been explosions and small fires attributed to the devices, either due to some type of battery malfunction, overheating or detonation.

    According to Cmdr. Jason Garrett, USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Safety Officer, there have been several instances where Sailors assigned to the nuclear aircraft carrier have been effected by a malfunctioning e-cig. One Sailor sustained significant burns when an e-cig vaporizer device caught fire in his uniform’s pant-leg pocket. Another Sailor’s vehicle sustained damage when an ‘e-cig’ ignited and torched his car’s interior. Good luck explaining that to the insurance company.

    “Those devices needless to say are not allowed on Nimitz anymore,” stated Garrett, during a recent Naval Hospital Bremerton Culture of Safety Summit.

    In correspondence sent from Commander, Naval Sea Service System Command to Commander, Naval Safety Center, it was noted that “based on known dangers, these lithium-battery powered devices have not been authorized for use, transport, or storage on Navy facilities, submarines, ships, vessels and aircraft.”

    Compiled statistical evidence from Naval Safety Center shows that there have been 12 safety incidents – from Oct. 2015 through May 2016 - associated with the use of electronic cigarettes, vaporizers, vape pens and similar equipment containing lithium-ion batteries that have caused fire and/or explosions with Navy or Marine Corps personnel.

    Seven of those incidents happened on a naval vessel, with two causing a fire that needed shipboard firefighting equipment to extinguish the flames. Eight of the dozen reported incidents happened when the e-cigarette batteries were being kept in the service member’s clothing pockets. The accidental shorting or discharge that took place resulted in first or second degree burns.

    Additionally, four of the mishaps happened when the device was being used. Two were battery explosions when the e-cig was actually in the service member’s mouth causing facial and dental injuries.
    Navy officials point to a growing body of evidence of considerable personal injury risk or fire associated with the use, transport, and storage of these devices based on open source information available on these products and other U.S. government studies. The reports have highlighted the inherent dangers of these devices due to the typical design that directly exposes personnel to the hazards of a battery failure, the frequent misuse of these items from common consumer modifications, the lack of fail-safe battery charging controls, and uncontrolled battery replacement and handling of spare batteries.

    And to think the exploding cigar used to be considered a funny gag.

    Additionally, to add further insult to injury, Patrick W. Graves, NHB Tobacco Cessation Facilitator, attests that the relatively new phenomena of e-cigs is not all that it’s supposed to be.

    There’s a little smoke and mirrors routine at work here and tobacco users are buying the routine, especially with what appears to be a willing market in the military. Graves cites that approximately 35 percent of those in uniform use tobacco products compared to 17 percent of the civilian population.

    “E-cigs are only a 12-year invention and didn’t widely become available in the U.S. until around 2008. The popularity of these things are extraordinary high, and greatest among the youngest populations. Sailors also smoke e-cigs about twice as much as civilians. The novelty, collectability, and ‘tech’ gadget aspect makes them very attractive, along with the main ‘selling point’ that e-cigs are less harmful than tobacco,” said Graves.

    As with any tobacco product, there are hurdles in getting anyone to recognize any potential health threat with using some sort of e-cig device.

    “Most people, even little kids in pre-school, recognize that tobacco is bad. Ironically, little ones are most prone to poisoning from e-cigarette exposure by ingesting e-cig liquid or ‘juice’ because most e-cig containers are not childproof,” Graves said, also noting that for teenagers, young adults, and even mature adults, the marketing of e-cig products is particularly deceptive.

    Calls received by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222) related to human – primarily children - exposures to e-cigs and liquid nicotine have skyrocketed from 0 in 2010 to 3,783 in 2014. That’s a 3,000 percent increase. The number of cases so far for 2016 through Sept. 30 is 1,237, with 171 in Feb. and 170 in Jan. as the top months and 83 in Sept. as the lowest month. It should be noted that the term ‘exposure’ means that someone has had contact with the substance in some way, such as by ingesting, inhaling, absorbing by the skin or eyes, etc. Not all exposures are poisonings or overdoses.

    “Much of the e-cig liquid is marketed and sold as ‘harmless water vapor,’ which is 100 percent false. It’s true that most of it is benign. But it’s not vapor and it’s not water. Most of it is high density particle that is produced using ethelyne glycol, which is a solution used to make ‘false smoke’ for haunted houses and theatrical performances. The stuff was never intended to be directly inhaled into lungs,” added Graves.

    The University of California San Francisco Center for Tobacco Control and Research has been able to identify nine carcinogens – cancer causing chemicals – in most e-cig solutions tested. Although Graves admits that by comparison to tobacco’s almost 70 known carcinogens, that ‘only’ nine is substantially less, but it’s still nine which are toxic substances being consumed on a daily basis.

    Can e-cigs cause cancer? The common consensus is that the product has not been around long enough to prove a causal link. However, Harvard School of Public Health researchers recently have found that there has been a link to the connection in some e-cig users with what is called, ‘popcorn lung,’ or Bronchiolitis Obliterans, from the chemical Diacetyl which is found in more than 75 percent of e-cig flavors. The slang name is derived from a study of workers at a microwave popcorn plant that were exposed to and inhaled the artificial butter flavoring found in most commercially available microwave popcorn.

    “Popcorn lung is a very serious disease that most e-cig users don’t develop. If they do, it could be fatal,” said Graves.

    There is also growing evidence that pulmonary toxicity levels are being directly influenced by flavorings in e-cigarettes.

    “Amazingly enough, different flavors have been attributed to toxic effects in the body. Roswell Park Cancer Institute researchers discovered that menthol, coffee and the most popular e-cig juice flavor, strawberry, all showed significant impact on overall cytotoxicity. That fact has helped some people switch to a different flavor and has discouraged continued use by others,” Graves said.

    But a routine once started can be hard to stop. Graves’ knows. He has been NHB’s Tobacco Cessation Facilitator for the past seven years and has been working exclusively to help patients quit their dependence, despite the reoccurring themes over the years to not halt that habit.

    “There are a few basic excuses. ‘My job/relationship/school/life is too stressful so how can I quit with all this stress in my life?’ ‘Everybody I know smokes.’ And ‘I’ve tried before and it just doesn’t work.’ Those are the top three excuses,” stated Graves.

    There’s an old saying that an excuse is only believed by the person who says it. Other than that, it’s just hot air.

    Unless it’s about an e-cig. Then it could literally blow up in your face.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 11.07.2016
    Date Posted: 11.07.2016 11:56
    Story ID: 214032
    Location: BREMERTON , WA, US 

    Web Views: 585
    Downloads: 0

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