Deadly vape explosion highlights safety gaps

An exploding vape killed a 24-year-old man named William Brown in Texas last week, CBS DFW reports — highlighting the ongoing lack of safety standards for electronic cigarettes.

Shattered fragments from the vape sliced open a blood vessel in Brown’s neck that delivers blood to the brain, and he died at the hospital from a stroke on January 29th. His death is a sad reminder that e-cigarettes are still largely unregulated. The FDA announced in July 2017 that it plans to come up with product standards to prevent battery explosions. But those standards are still under development.

The vape that killed Brown exploded in the parking lot outside a shop called Smoke & Vape DZ, where Brown went “to ask for help using his vape pen,” according to CNN. The local medical examiner’s office has not released the manufacturer of the device responsible for Brown’s death. “We are still investigating this. We have the manner and cause of death, but it’s still pending investigations and further testing,” a spokesperson told The Verge.

According to CBS DFW, Brown was using a type of vape called a mechanical mod. Generally, mechanical mods are pretty simple devices that have no internal safety features, according to Gregory Conley, president of the advocacy group the American Vaping Association. Pressing a button sends power from the batteries to the atomizer, which creates the vapor. Other devices shut off if they get too warm — which could precede a battery explosion, he says. But with mechanical mods, Conley says, “there is no warning system other than that the device becomes very hot.”

These safety issues have caused mechanical mods to wane in popularity. “They are a shrinking minority portion of the market because more and more vape shops are declining to even sell them,” Conley says. A mechanical mod was also implicated in the death of Tallmadge D’Elia in Florida last year, according to The New York Times. The local medical examiner told the Times that D’Elia, who had been badly burned, had died from a “projectile wound to the head.”



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