The emergence of e-cigarettes raises new concerns about nicotine poisoning and other adverse effects for both adults and children. Nicotine poisoning causes adverse reactions such as tremors, nausea, vomiting, agitation, and in more extreme cases, seizures, coma, and death.
E-cigarettes are designed with a battery-operated heating element that vaporizes chemicals inside the replaceable cartridges. They are being promoted as a less dangerous alternative to cigarettes or a smoking cessation aid. However, e- cigarettes have not been approved as safe by the FDA. In fact, the FDA has warned the public that e-cigarettes contain various toxic and cancer causing chemicals.
Studies have found that e-cigarette vapor contains nicotine, ultrafine particles, toxins such as lead and formaldehyde, and other toxins that are known to cause cancer. Exposure to fine and ultrafine particles may exacerbate respiratory ailments like asthma, and constrict arteries which could lead to a heart attack.
The solutions in e-cigarette cartridges are very concentrated. A 30 ml container of e-cigarette solution can easily contain 500+ mg of nicotine, and some labelled as nicotine-free have been found to contain nicotine. Some may even be over 1,000 mg per bottle, and they come in candy flavors. This creates a risk of overdosing or poisoning. The lethal dose of nicotine for adults is 30 mg to 60 mg if swallowed. The lethal dose of nicotine for children is just 10 mg.
In December, Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center of Kosair Children’s Hospital reported a 333 percent increase in calls about e-cigarettes in 2013, compared to 2012. Nationally, poison control centers have seen a 161 percent increase in calls from people with concerns about poisoning from e-cigarettes, and the CDC reports that the percentage of children who have tried e-cigarettes doubled between 2011 and 2012.
It is important for parents to be aware of emerging tobacco products their children may be exposed to.
and to talk to their children about the dangers of tobacco and other nicotine delivery products. For more information about the health effects of e-cigarettes, visit www.no-smoke.org.