E-cigarette explodes in Utah teenager's mouth, breaks jaw, knocks out teeth

Grant Boone
June 21, 2019

Russell said she submitted the case because they had never seen injuries as severe as Austin's at the hands of a vape pen.

Dr. Katie Russell, a pediatric trauma surgeon at the University of Utah and Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City, told Live Science several tooth sockets in the boy's mouth were destroyed by the blast, so doctors took out some of his teeth.

According to FEMA, the 38-year-old's death was the first in the US to be caused by an e-cigarette.

It remains unclear what type of e-cigarette was involved in the incident.

A 17-year-old was left with broken teeth and a hole in his jaw after his e-cigarette exploded in his mouth.


A study published in 2018 estimates that between 2015 and 2017, over 2,000 e-cigarette explosion and burn injuries sent users to U.S. hospital emergency departments.

"I thought he could've been dead", she told the Post.

In February, a Texas man died after his e-cigarette exploded and shrapnel tore through his carotid artery.

Nine per cent of the remaining patients were burned from e-cigarettes exploding or catching fire. The now 18-year-old has since recovered from the injuries.

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William Eric Brown, 24, died after his e-cigarette exploded.

Most accidents involved flame burns, and nearly 30% of patients endured "blast injuries" that led to "tooth loss, traumatic tattooing, and extensive loss of soft tissue".

Dr. Micah G. Katz and Dr. Katie W. Russell who treated the patient and detailed his condition in the case study wrote: "The increasing prevalence of vaping among adolescents is a public health concern".

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued guidance for manufacturers of tobacco-related products, including e-cigarettes.

"The industry can always do more", Story said, but he blamed consumers for some of the accidents.

Most burns and explosions have to do with the devices' batteries (generally ones purchased from third-party vendors) limits being pushed, triggering a malfunction and explosion or overheating.

Last year, R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company initiated a voluntary recall of 2.6 million power units for fire risk, but the FDA - which has regulatory jurisdiction over e-cigarettes - has not mandated any e-cigarette recalls in response to the recent explosions.

Loose batteries should be kept away from metal objects like keys, and vapes should be charged using the plug which came with it, not on a phone or tablet charger. From January 2009 to December 31, 2016, 195 isolated incidents of fires and explosions involving e-cigarettes were reported by US media outlets and to date, there have been no deaths in the USA caused by e-cigarette explosions or fires.

"A pack of cigarettes says this can kill you", Russell said.

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