The 2017 FEMA report on e-cigarette explosions has linked product construction to the severity of injuries suffered in explosion incidents.
The study included extensive review and research into the construction of e-cigarettes and why explosions and severe injuries are more likely to occur with e-cigarettes than other consumer products containing lithium-ion batteries.
The results show that the dual-cylindrical construction of the e-cigarette product and batteries is problematic.
Unlike other consumer products, including cell phones and laptops, e-cigarette construction includes cylindrical lithium-ion batteries installed in a cylindrical tube—one that is weakest at both ends.
Battery failures generate increased pressure that “shoots” the batteries out of the tube like “rockets.” This is different from other products that enclose batteries in thick plastic housings (laptops) or those that use flat batteries (cell phones). When a person is using the e-cigarette at the time of explosions, those “rockets” can shoot into the mouth causing severe head and mouth injuries.
Battery fires can also erupt if preventative measures are not taken to protect the combustible elements. It is incumbent on the manufacturer to include battery protections as required by prudence and law.
Unfortunately, there are no regulations directly applicable to e-cigarettes so lithium-ion battery protection is “left to the manufacturers’ best judgment (FEMA report).”
Because fires are more likely to be seen only in explosive events with e-cigarettes, FEMA focused concern on the use of a cylindrical design with a cylindrical battery rather than on lack of battery protection.
Battery manufacturers report they are working to decrease explosions by better protecting the combustible elements in consumer product batteries. However, the e-cigarette industry shows no such similar accountability.
Despite FEMA’s statement that the “combination of an electronic cigarette with a lithium-ion is a new and unique hazard,” the vaping industry remains silent on cause, effect, and liability. E-cigarette manufacturers also are not giving any indication that they are working on product redesigns that may help protect consumers from devastating and life-changing injuries.
The public stance remains “e-cigarette explosions are caused by misuse” of the charging tools, leaving consumers unprotected and at risk.