UA trauma surgeon seeing spike in e-cig burns - Tucson News Now

UA trauma surgeon seeing spike in e-cig burns

E-cig users said they take care of their equipment so it doesn't catch fire (Source: Tucson News Now). E-cig users said they take care of their equipment so it doesn't catch fire (Source: Tucson News Now).
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A Banner University Medical Center burn surgeon says he's seeing a rise in burns from electronic cigarettes after conducting a study featured in a new medical journal and treating three patients for e-cig burns in Tucson.

Dr. Gary Vercruysse and his colleagues decided to write a case report describing these patients, which were treated for these burns about a year and a half ago.

"They all told me basically the same thing," Vercruysse said in a news release. "They had an electronic cigarette in their pocket, then they started feeling a lot of heat in their pocket and then they couldn't get their pants off or get the device out of their pocket quickly enough."

Their study appears in the May 2017 issue of the journal Burns and points to lithium ion battery failure as the culprit.

You can read the full study here: http://www.burnsjournal.com/article/S0305-4179(16)30402-8/fulltext?cc=y=

"These cases are among the first recognizing thermal injuries sustained from the lithium-ion batteries contained in electronic cigarettes, which means there's a need for increased awareness of the safety hazards associated with e-cigarettes," Vercruysse said. "Since then, we've seen several patients, and only one hasn't gotten a skin graph." 

Vercruysse said the severity of the burn depends on on how thick the particular area of skin is and how many calories of heat come into contact with the skin and for how long.

"So you can have a relatively small number of calories contact you for a long time, and you get a burn, or you can have a relatively large number of calories contact you for a relatively short time and you get a burn," Vercruysse said. "With these cases, there were relatively a lot of calories and the skin isn't that thick, so you get a bad burn." 

Tucson resident Keith Jones said he's been using electronic cigarettes for about 3 years and said he's never had a problem.

He said when using e-cigs, education about how the product is made and how to properly use and store one is key.

"If you get a bad one, then you're going to have one of those horror stories of 'Oh, it exploded when it was on the charger'," Jones said. "But, I've had this for a year and I've never had an issue with it. I've never seen any fire or sparks or anything."

Justin Hejl, another e-cig user, said it's also important for sellers to inform their clients about the safety hazards as well.

"It's just essentially education on the product you're selling or the product you're purchasing," Hejl said. "So, any shop you go into, at least the shops in Tucson, because Tucson is a good community for it, they really do take care and take the time to make sure you know what you're doing."

Earlier this month, the U.S. Navy suspended the use, possession and storage of electronic nicotine delivery systems on ships, submarines, aircraft, boats, craft and heavy equipment. 

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