Is Vaping More Dangerous Than You Think?

February 29th 2016

Alex Mierjeski

Marcus Forzani, a 17-year-old Colorado high schooler, is speaking out about the dangers of vaporizer pens after one reportedly exploded in his pocket last week, scorching his leg and hand.

"Seeing your whole leg pussed out and all black, it doesn't make you feel too good about yourself," Marcus Forzani told KDVR last week.

Vape Explosion

The Castle Rock teen and his father, who set up a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses, say they want to use the experience to draw attention to the sketchy mechanics that can make the the devices so unnerving — especially given their increasing popularity. 

"You don't want to be in these shoes of where my son is," Michael Forzani told KDVR, a Denver Fox affiliate. "It's a painful and long process. Do not flirt with it."

Vape Explosion

Forzani's case comes as vaping, the somewhat regulated method of vaporized nicotine inhalation, faces increased scrutiny for its negative public health implications. The dangers of the devices were even addressed in a 2014 U.S. Fire Administration report, which noted that the "shape and construction of e-cigarettes can make them more likely than other products with lithium-ion batteries to behave like 'flaming rockets' when a battery fails." 

Lithium-ion batteries in vaporizers and e-cigarettes have been especially prone to combustion, but not all devices use batteries. Even so, the safety of the products vaporizers enable users to ingest has also been called into question.

More bad news for e-cigarette smokers.

This week, researchers at Hong Kong Baptist University announced findings showing e-cigarette smoke to be many times more dangerous than even the heavily polluted outdoor air in Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post reported. (In January, Hong Kong's air quality was so poor that officials advised people to limit or avoid outdoor activity altogether.)

Air Pollution Mask

After analyzing 13 different types of e-cigarettes sold on the market, researchers said that the devices could "contain one million times more cancer-causing substances" than the polluted air, the South China Morning Post reported. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, produced from burning petroleum, and polybrominated diphenyl, a flame retardant, were detected in elevated levels in the samples, researchers said.

"Even though we don't know the exact number of e-cigarettes one should take, not to mention that many of the carcinogenic effects are cumulative, I don't think there is a safe margin," Dr. Chung Shan-shan, an assistant professor of biology at Baptist University told the Post.

The Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health, which commissioned the study, called for a ban on e-cigarettes.