38-year-old television producer, Tallmadge “Wake” D’Elia, of St. Petersburg, Florida was killed on May 5th when a vape pen that he was using exploded.
The modded "Smok-E Mountain Mech Works" pen that was manufactured in the Philippines, broke into pieces, one of which caused the fatal projectile wound of the head.
D'Elia was also burned from the fatal incident, approximately 80% of his body. He was found by firefighters in his bedroom after a fire alarm had gone off. Experts believe that the modded vape pen explosion was likely caused by a bad atomizer or battery.
This is the first e-cigarette fatality recorded in the United States.
How Safe is Vaping and Vape Pens?
These portable electronic devices, better known as vape pens, provide a more convenient and discreet alternative to lighting a cigarette. Instead of burning a dried substance like tobacco, vape pens usually consist of a liquid oil (Propylene glycol) solution in a cartridge that is activated by heat from a battery.
The general consensus is that inhaling vapor is healthier than inhaling smoke.
Vape pens are usually manufactured in China and are sold without many regulatory controls. The battery in these pens are activated, usually by a button, which heat metal coils at high voltage and temperatures, transforms the solvents and flavoring in these oils into vapor, and then inhaled. There is no smoke during the process, but some experts argue that carcinogens and dangerous toxins are still created from the burning process - at a lower level when compared to smoking.
Propylene glycol, the main ingredient of the oil, is used in many household items such as baby wipes, pharmaceuticals, hairspray, antifreeze and more. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration insists that propylene glycol is safe for human ingestion and use. But is it safe for inhaling?
The FDA-approved flavoring agents in the vape oil, or juices (referred to by some), can pose risks when inhaled.
According to a 2010 study, breathing in propylene glycol can induce asthma, eczema, and other allergic symptoms.
Only time will tell whether vaping has any short or long-term effects on the human body.
Photo: A selection of 'Nicotine Containing Products', or 'NCP's are displayed during 'The E-Cigarette Summit' at the Royal Academy in central London on November 12, 2013. The merits of e-cigarettes were thrashed out at a one-day gathering of scientists, experts, policymakers and industry figures at the Royal Society in London. The use of electronic cigarettes -- pen-sized battery-powered devices that simulate smoking by heating and vaporising a liquid solution containing nicotine -- has grown rapidly. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL