“What About the Children” Part 2: E-Liquid Safety

Welcome back to our Knowledge is Power blog series. Today we are discussing the 2nd of three elements within the “What About the Children” argument surrounding e-cigarettes. Yesterday we talked about advertising and selling to minors, and tomorrow we will be looking at the appeal of flavors. Today we will be tackling the subject of e-liquid safety.

Copy of iStock_000024223771Large


The American Heart Association (AHA)1 published a public policy statement regarding E-Cigarettes in which they stated “The concentrations of nicotine in e-cigarette liquids are high enough to be fatal to a child if even a few millimeters is ingested.” Which, in and of itself is a scary thing. No one wants to endanger the life of children. Additionally, Medscape3 published an article Young Children and e-Cigarette Poisoning where they found “In April, the CDC released a study documenting the increase in the number of calls to US poison centers involving exposures to e-cigarettes. The number of e-cigarette exposure calls increased from one call in September 2010 to 215 calls in February 2014. More than half of the 2400 e-cigarette calls involved children aged less than six years. Ingestion of the e-liquid accounted for 69% f exposures, inhalation of the vapor accounted for 17%, eye exposures accounted for 9% and dermal exposures for 6%. The three most commonly reported adverse health events were vomiting, nausea and eye irritation.” There are many more articles I have found regarding the issue of poison center calls increasing regarding e-liquid exposure to children, however the study they all reference was the CDC report referenced by Medscape. Obviously we don’t want to endanger the lives of our children. As we have learned throughout this series, it may be possible that the media is overstating the issue.

We have looked at the possible dangers of nicotine previously in our blog Nicotine2 where we found “statements such as ‘A teaspoon of even highly diluted e-liquid can kill a small child.’ are based on outdated and unjustified information. In fact, Dr. Carl V. Phillips of the Independent Research Institutes website titled Tobacco Reduction Harm has stated ‘nicotine users are never exposed to pure nicotine (like coffee drinkers are not exposed to pure caffeine) and never take in that much all at once. Keep in mind the saying from toxicology: the dose makes the poison. Enough of anything, delivered fast enough, is deadly (including food or water).” Meaning the information being utilized by the AHA is not only outdated, but false when it comes to the e-liquid available for purchase to the general public. However, there are health concerns that do come into effect regarding the e-liquid that is available to the public. Digital Trends4 published the article Demonizing E-cigarettes and E-Liquid is Not the Answer which stated “What is not reported tells a different story: E-Liquid makes up only a small percentage of the substances that poison people each year. According to the NPDS’s annual report from 2012 – 193,443 poisoning cases involved household cleaning agents, 54,445 involved alcoholic beverages, 11,848 were caused by pens or other ink, and 20,306 were caused by toothpaste. E-liquid is extremely dangerous if ingested or absorbed through the skin. But, despite the scary headline, not a single person has died from accidental liquid nicotine poisoning in the United States. Not even any children. Only one person has knowingly died from liquid nicotine poisoning – and it was a suicide by adult.” So, even with 2,400 calls regarding possible poisoning by e-liquid, that is still almost 1/10 of the amount of calls regarding poisonings by toothpaste and almost 100,000 times less than calls regarding household cleaners. Meaning, the headlines involving the deadliness of nicotine e-juice, and an increase in calls to poison control can be taken with a grain of salt.

In summary, the reality of the danger of nicotine is not as overwhelming as they may seem when looking at the daily headlines. However, calls to poison control have gone up, and that’s not a good thing. More poisonings are always worse than fewer, and the rising instances of e-liquid poisoning is a problem. Nicotine can be harmful, even in the limited quantities contained in e-juice, when not used properly. As such, precautions should be taken. Mt Baker Vapor uses child-proof caps, as do many other e-juice manufacturers. We strongly encourage storage of your e-juice in a cabinet or on a high shelf, encourage vapers to make sure the bottle is always capped and secured properly before leaving it unattended. Just like with any other substance that can be harmful (eg. bleach & aspirin) it is important to recognize that it should be away from curious little hands and mouths.

As always, I encourage everyone to educate themselves. Read the studies and information listed in the references below, and learn more about the e-liquid safety. Come back tomorrow when we look at Part 3 – The Allure of Flavors. Until then, we look forward to your questions and comments. Vape on!

Written by: Michelle Harnden

  1. AHA E-Cigarette Policy Statement
  2. Nicotine Deadly Poison or Promising Medicine
  3. Medscape “Young Children and e-Cigarette Poisoning
  4. Digital Trends “Demonizing E-cigarettes and E-Liquid is Not the Answer
Tim Mechling

Tim is Mt Baker Vapor's resident creative weirdo. He writes, composes music, draws, designs, produces podcasts, investigates, and blows the trumpet for the Common Man.