- A teenager suffered from a shattered jaw after a vape pen exploded in his mouth, as documented in a new report from The New England Journal of Medicine.
- The incident once again raised concerns about the safety risks associated with battery-powered vape pens that can be prone to overheating.
A 17-year-old boy suffered from a shattered jaw after a vape pen exploded in his mouth, an injury that knocked out several teeth and required that his jaw be wired shut for six weeks, according to NBC News.
The incident, which occurred last year, was documented in The New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday, once again raising concerns about the safety risks associated with battery-powered vape pens and electronic cigarettes that can be prone to overheating.
The boy, Austin Adams, was using a vape pen made by a company called VGOD in an attempt to quit smoking, NBC reported. He was treated at a hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah for a blast injury to the lower jaw and burns around his lip, Katie Russell, one of the trauma surgeons that treated Adams and a co-author of the journal entry, told the outlet.
In the paper, Russell referred to the “increasing prevalence of vaping among adolescents” as a “public health concern.”
Adams had to have his gumline sewn back together and needed to get temporary braces for his remaining teeth. He also had his jaw wired shut for six weeks, but has since fully recovered from the injury, according to NBC. “His injuries were very severe,” Russell said to Business Insider via email. “It takes a lot of force to shatter a jaw.”
Adams’ story isn’t an uncommon one. According to the US Fire Administration, US media have reported 195 incidents of explosion and fire involving an electronic cigarette between January 2009 and December 2016, 133 of which resulted in acute injuries. Of those injuries, 38 were described as severe.
Russell said Adams was the first patient to be seen at the Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City for this type of injury, but added that it’s “becoming a more common occurrence” and that the University of Utah’s adult trauma team has seen several patients.
Two people have died from e-cigarette explosions in recent years. A 38-year old man in St. Petersburg, Florida died in May 2018 from a projectile wound to the head after an e-cigarette exploded, as CNN reported. Earlier this year in February, a 24-year-old Texas man died after an e-cigarette exploded and cut an artery in his neck, according to NBC.
As part of an effort to crack down on the sale of e-cigarettes to youth, The Food and Drug Administration recently issued new guidelines that make it so that e-cigarettes and vape pens can only be sold in stores that check identification at the door or have an age-restricted section for such products, as CBS reported in March. The agency also took action against retailers that illegally sold e-cigarette products to minors last September, resulting in more than 1,300 fines being issued.
The FDA also provides safety guidelines to help users mitigate the risk of having their vape pen or e-cigarette overheat and potentially explode. The agency suggests using vape pens with safety features such as ventilation holes and firing button locks, and warns against charging such devices overnight.