Vape pen battery explosions still a concern

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(WILX) - E-cigarettes, vaping, whatever you want to call it, you've seen them. Millions of people say they've tried them. And just like other smoking habits, there are health risks that come along with it.

Two people have died as a result of malfunctioning e-cigarettes in as many years, bringing the potential dangers of these devices, specifically explosions and small fires, back to the public's attention.

"It's the battery itself that we're concerned about from a safety perspective," said Keith Bryant, a U.S. Fire Administrator. "Lithium-ion batteries because of their composition and the way that they do generate power, do tend to generate a lot of heat as well."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, e-cigarettes or vape pens, are battery-operated devices that heat liquid, creating an aerosol that can be smoked.

These liquids typically contain nicotine and flavoring.

The batteries are stored in cylinder casings at the end of the device. The U.S. Fire Administration's report indicates the shape and casing around the battery may be increasing the risk of fires or explosions.

"A lot of the cases where we've seen an explosion or misuse of this equipment, is because they used a charging device that wasn't made for that specific device," said Bryant. "Don't use these devices or place these devices on heated surfaces. Don't have these devices around flammable materials or combustible materials such as clothing."

The USFA detailed 195 reported explosions or fires caused by the devices from 2009 to 2016. In 68-percent of the accidents at least one person was injured.

The CDC says 1 in 10 adults have tried e-cigarettes.

"The manufacturing industry continues to look at the ways to improve the use and the safety of these batteries as we go along," said Bryant. "In most cases, lithium-ion batteries are safe to use."