As the use of electronic cigarettes has increased in the past year or two, the number of accidental poisonings reported to Poison Control centers has risen, as well. But the first tragedy struck Tuesday, Dec. 9, when a one-year-old child died after ingesting the liquid used in e-cigarettes.
The child was found unresponsive at home in Fort Plain, NY, allegedly from ingesting e-liquid, which contains nicotine. After paramedics tried to revive the child, he was rushed to a hospital and pronounced dead later that evening.
Although Fort Plain police didn’t say whether the liquid was associated with e-cigarette use or not, they did label the death as a “tragic accident” in a written statement.
Health officials with the American Association of Poison Control Centers has raised concern over the hazard that e-liquid can pose to children, and pointed out in a statement that there are no set standards in the industry to require child-proof packaging.
“One teaspoon of liquid nicotine could be lethal to a child, and smaller amounts can cause severe illness, often requiring trips to the emergency department,” the organization said. Among the side effects of accidental ingestion are vomiting, nausea, eye irritation, decreased blood pressure, convulsion and loss of ability to breathe.
As a result, the increase in “vaping,” or e-cig use, could lead to more deaths, especially if curious children want to try vaping flavors like cotton candy or gummy bear, which are often bright in color.
Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in April that as long as the use of e-cigarettes continued “skyrocketing,” the poisonings would continue as well. “E-cigarette liquids as currently sold are a threat to small children because they are not required to be childproof, and they come in candy and fruit flavors that are appealing to children.”
“I believe that e-liquids should be in child-resistant packaging with labels which include ingredient listings with nicotine strength and a warning to keep out of the reach of children,” says Melanie Milin, External Relations with Vapor4Life. “These measures would serve as safety reminders to busy parents to store and treat e-liquids like other potentially harmful household products.”
Before the tragic death last week, only one person had died from liquid nicotine. In 2012, a man injected himself with the liquid, said the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
The number of dangerous exposures to e-liquid has increased at an alarming pace since 2011, when only 271 such exposures were reported. In 2013, the number jumped to 1,543 exposures, but that figure more than doubled as of Nov. 30, 2014, reaching a staggering 3,638 exposures.