Inhaling vapors that contain nicotine and other chemicals, or vaping, has become a popular alternative to tobacco smoking in the U.S. More than nine million adults used e-cigarettes or vape devices in America as of 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Many of these users – especially youth – may not understand the potential risks of vaping. Many do not realize the high nicotine content, risk for nicotine addiction or connections to lifelong lung illnesses that can come with vaping.
New Lung Illness Related to Vaping Takes Lives
The vaping-related illness making headlines most recently is a yet-unidentified pulmonary illness that has 380 confirmed cases and seven deaths. The illness has impacted patients in 36 different states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The common factor connecting these cases is that all affected patients have a history of vaping or e-cigarette use. Most used e-cigarettes to vaporize tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Patients with the mysterious lung illness complain of several common symptoms.
- Tight chest
- Trouble breathing
- Nausea or vomiting
Some patients experience subtle symptoms for months before going to the hospital, while others suffer abrupt and serious complications such as collapsed lungs. Upon inspection, physicians have found lung inflammation and vape liquids in the lungs of many patients, leading to a temporary diagnosis of what doctors are calling vaping toxicity. So far, seven people have lost their lives to the vaping-related pulmonary illness.
Nicotine Addiction, Popcorn Lung and Other Risks
Although this serious lung illness is a reason for concern, it is not the only known risk associated with vaping. Physicians and researchers have warned of the risk of nicotine addiction through vaping, especially for young users. One of the most popular e-cigarette brands, JUUL, contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes in a single cartridge. Nicotine can affect brain development in young users. With flavors that appear to target a young audience, such as candy and fruit, many users may not realize they are inhaling high quantities of nicotine, along with other chemicals – one of which may be diacetyl.
Diacetyl is the chemical that creates the buttery flavor in many vapes, including vanilla, coconut and almond flavors. It is also the chemical behind the irreversible lung illness called popcorn lung. Popcorn lung (bronchiolitis obliterans) is so-named because of lung problems workers in popcorn factories experienced after breathing in diacetyl as an ingredient in microwave popcorn. Popcorn companies stopped using diacetyl for this reason. Popcorn lung is an incurable condition that permanently scars the air sacs in the lungs, narrowing the airways. Patients with popcorn lung from vaping liquids may have grounds for personal injury lawsuits against the e-cigarette company for failure to disclose known risks.
Studies into the potential long-term risks of vaping have found evidence that may suggest odds of other complications with the lungs, respiratory system and cardiovascular system. Analyses of the liquids in vapes have found potentially dangerous chemicals, heavy metals (including tin and lead) and volatile organic compounds. Researchers are still unsure what effects inhaling these substances could have on a user long-term.
Another serious vaping danger that has caused injuries and deaths is exploding e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes and vaporizers may overheat, spark, catch on fire or explode due to defective lithium-ion batteries. Defective e-cigarette batteries have caused several house fires, burn injuries, amputations, eye injuries and other traumatic injuries in the U.S. Two people have died in suspected exploding e-cigarette accidents so far.
E-cigarette companies are evading liability for these incidents by placing the blame with the manufacturer of the batteries. Injured victims may have grounds for product liability claims after e-cigarette fires or explosions. Product liability lawsuits may reimburse victims for their medical bills, pain and suffering, scarring, disfigurement, disabilities, lost quality of life, lost income and other damages. Our lawyers have recovered millions of dollars in damages for our injury clients, contact us today for a free case evaluation.