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E-cigarette’s liquid nicotine causing poisonings

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As electronic cigarettes increase in popularity, calls to the nation’s poison control centers about exposure to the liquid nicotine used in many of the devices have surged, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

In February, there were 215 poison center calls involving e-cigarettes, the CDC said. That’s compared to one per month in September 2010.

And 51% 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.

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, feature flavors like spearmint, banana and bubble gum, making them appealing to kids.

“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 that 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.

Poisonings can also occur when liquid nicotine is inhaled or absorbed through the skin or eyes, and other side effects can include nausea and eye irritation. It can even be deadly. One person used the liquid to commit suicide by injecting it, according to the CDC.

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

“You can start to feel sick in as little as four to five minutes,” he said. “The fumes themselves can be poisonous, and if we inhale them for long enough we’re going to get a little sick to our stomach.”

About 42% of the poison calls in February involved people age 20 and older, the CDC said.

E-cigarette products are currently not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Poison control experts say the liquids, found in bottles or cartridges that have been known to break, need to be better controlled.

“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.”

Ray Story, founder of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, said his association promotes childproof packaging, warning labels, and limits on the potency of liquid nicotine sold in bottles.

“We have expressed our concerns about unregulated liquids on many occasions, but we do not want to demonize them as the culprit for this problem,” Story said in a statement. “The toxicity for all products is in the dosage.”

“We have provided the regulatory bodies information and guidelines on this that can easily be implemented and then could eliminate these cases entirely.”

Educating e-cigarette users is also a crucial step in eliminating the incidents, he said.

Gaulrapp, the mother in Oklahoma, said she has since moved her liquid nicotine up and out of her son’s reach.

“It smells like candy. It really isn’t,” she told KFOR. “This really can hurt you.”

By John Bonifield

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  • Susan Moser

    The e-cigarette has helped me go from 40 cigarettes per day or more down to 8-10 per day. I have saved money by switching to the e-cig. Look what is in a cigarette-tar, nicotine, carbon monoxide, chemicals, and the list goes on. If a person has any common sense they would know how to use the e-cig, and store it safely when not in use. Consider also that cigarettes are 5.00 a pack and some more. I have saved 20.00 a day. I think they are the best thing on the market to help a person quit. I have tried the Chantix, and all sorts of quitting programs, so far the e-cig. has helped me.

  • Linda

    I have used mine for 7 months and have quit smoking since using. I think that it is better then having all the nicotine, tar and carbon but I would like to know more about the health issues it could have.

  • Wesley Edwards

    “it can be deadly” well yea when you inject it of course it can be deadly but no one ever said “hey man you know what really works? injecting this shiz” try to be a little responsible for your actions and your kids actions. you made the little rug rats so you have to watch out for them. use some common sense for once.

  • Tracey

    You didn’t let your kids play with your cigarettes and lighters why are you treating e cig any different? Common sense people it’s a drug. Keep it away from kids.take responsibility for your actions. I suppose u leave your prescriptions out for them too

  • Melissa

    Maybe if people actually payed attention to there children and what there doing the number would be a lot lower. I have been vapeing for a year now and have had no problems. I really think that some of these statistics are coming from cigarette company’s. Vapeing has really put a hurting on them in the past 2 years.

  • Tricia

    I have used an e cigarette for about 6 months now and feel 100% better, posts like this are aggravating due to the fact that e cigs are being scrutinized when they have helped me personally so much, first the liquid should be put in a safe place where children can’t get ahold of it (although some caps are child proof and maybe you should watch what your child is doing) i mean do you leave cleaning products out in the open for your child to try the citrus pledge? No usually they would be locked in the cabinet under the sink. Also, about the flavors that are “attractive to kids”, this makes me laugh because there is cotton candy flavored vodka but are we pushing for legislation to make laws banning alcohol? I’ve just accepted the fact that this country is dead set on stripping away everyone’s freedoms, maybe once it’s your freedom you’ll care a little bit more.

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