Former smokers who have turned to vaping frequently cite the elimination of cigarettes’ toxic chemicals as a main benefit of the switch. While it’s true that tar and many other noxious substances aren’t present in eLiquid, nicotine poisoning can be especially dangerous for children. It is extremely important to ensure children do not gain access to our vape juice.
E Liquid and Nicotine Poisoning
E Juice with nicotine in it bring risks of ingestion and other exposure. Even a few drops could result in serious illness, causing altered mental conditions and loss of consciousness. A representative of the American Association of Poison Control recently stated that as little as “one teaspoon of liquid nicotine could be lethal to a child.”
The marketing of some eLiquid formulas make children particularly vulnerable. Bright, colorful labels attract attention, and fruit or candy flavors like watermelon, Banana Smoothie, chocolate and candy cane could look like fun things to drink. As any parent knows, it’s nearly impossible to monitor children continuously, and it’s all too easy for them to get into trouble during a brief moment of inattention. Additionally, swallowing e Liquid with nicotine isn’t the only hazard. Nicotine absorbs quickly through the skin with highly toxic results, meaning that adults also need to be careful when refilling cartridges.
Reports of nicotine poisoning have increased dramatically with the rise in e-cigarette popularity. In 2011, there were 271 reports of exposure; in 2013, there were 1,543. Poisonings from other substances, including laundry detergent packets and energy drinks, pose much higher risks in terms of numbers of cases, but it’s foolish to ignore the exponential increase in reports of nicotine exposure. Note: Exposure may refer to ingestion, inhalation or skin absorption.
Sadly, the U.S. reported its first child death due to liquid nicotine poisoning in December of 2014. The child was only one year old. In 2013, a toddler in Israel also died after ingesting nicotine drops. Calls for eLiquid regulation are growing louder, something the e-cigarette industry is currently resisting, but adults ultimately need to take responsibility.
e Liquid Safety Tips
A few common-sense steps can help protect children from possible nicotine poisoning:
- Treat eLiquid like medication. Use childproof caps whenever possible; however, they are only deterrents, not guarantees. Also, store bottles up high, out of children’s reach. Locking the storage cupboard or using a locked container adds an extra level of safety. If you keep eLiquid refrigerated (which I don’t suggest), a locked container is essential.
- Don’t carry around a lot of extra eLiquid in a purse or in pockets where kids might go exploring. Only bring what you really need.
- Consider using low-nicotine or nicotine-free eLiquid to reduce risks.
- Immediately clean up any spills that occur, washing skin, surfaces and clothing. Skin exposure requires at least 10 minutes of washing with soap and water, and it’s also important to keep a careful eye out for symptoms. If children are exposed, don’t wait; call for help right away. They might have ingested some eLiquid in addition to touching it.
- Dispose of empty containers properly, perhaps wrapping and burying them under other items.
- Keep a Poison Control number handy, and know likely symptoms. These can include nausea, vomiting, cramps, confusion, difficulty breathing, weakness, restlessness, irregular heartbeat and fainting (see below for poison control numbers).
Reducing the toxic effects of cigarettes is a great step. Take a few more to help protect children from accidental nicotine exposure. Note: What goes for children also goes for pets.
If you live in the United States and suspect nicotine poisoning, call 911 or your local poison control center: 1-800-222-1222.