Toxic Vapor Harmful to Children and Young Adults

John M. Dabbs

Vapors are impacting our local communities. They could especially impact our young population and those with respiratory disorders. The vapors filling our homes and permeating the lungs of locals contain concentrations of toxic chemicals, and some highly addictive substances. Some of these vapors have been known to contain heavy metals. Thankfully, the emissions of local industry are highly regulated by the EPA and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

Local industry is not the issue. I'm talking about those who "vape" in your family.

Vaping is an issue

E-cigarette use and the like, known as vaping, was developed as a less dangerous way for adults to try and kick the habit of tobacco products. Those smoking tobacco products are 50% more likely to die from lung and other associated cancers than non-users. Vaping type products have been, and continue to be marketed as the "safer" alternative (not the safe alternative).

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Itay Kabalo/Unsplash

E-cigarettes were developed as a means for adults to obtain their nicotine fix without having to smoke tobacco to get it. The problem is the associated dangers to those who've picked it up besides adults.

The intense marketing campaigns by manufacturers of these e-cigarette products have dumped large sums of money into the airways to promote their products. The problem is not that their target audience has not responded, the problem is that vaping products have become tantalizing to teens and young adults.

Parental use

The long-term consequences of parents vaping around their children is not yet known, but is believed to be similar in nature to that of second-hand smoke from tobacco products to their children. If you must vape, it is recommended by experts to do this outdoors away from your children.

Whether smoke, or vaping, the smoke and vapor both leave noxious fumes and odors that many people find distasteful or unappealing on your clothing and furniture - possibly even your breath. They do affect you, yet you are most likely too close to the issue to see it.

Underage use

The dangers for minors and those in their early 20s revolve around their body's stage of development. The mind isn't physically matured at this point and further development can be seriously impacted by the levels of nicotine found in most all e-cigarette products.

You may have seen the commercials too. The commercials espouse the dangers associated with vaping products along with heavy metals which can be found in some vaping liquids. These heavy metals are aerosolized with the e-cigarette where you can breathe them into your lungs. Your lungs were not designed to digest such toxins, and cannot handle many of the products that even your digestive tract can handle in solid form.

The use of vaping in the long-term is unknown. The effects of ingesting nicotine can cause the brain to develop a greater addiction over the long-term as it completes development, causing further harm and less ability to wean yourself off harmful substances and behaviors in the future.

Nicotine in high doses can lead to cardiovascular effects, nausea, vomiting, seizures, and central nervous system toxicity (National Institute on Drug Abuse https://archives.drugabuse.gov/trends-statistics/e-cigarettes-facts).

The use of e-cigarettes among youth and adults is increasing. Teens are more likely to use e-cigarettes than cigarettes. Greater than 9% of 8th graders, nearly 16% of 10th graders and 17% of 12th graders are using or have used e-cigarettes in recent research studies. Teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke tobacco cigarettes within a year.

Poison Control

Calls are on the increase for nicotine poisoning exposure. In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics published the results of a study stating E-Cigarettes were responsible for 1,500% increase in monthly poison control center calls in just over three years.

Most of the calls cited in the study involved ingestion. Calls involving E-cigarettes rose to 223 monthly exposures up from 14, an increase of 1,493%.

Over a quarter of the children exposed to nicotine or tobacco products experienced clinical symptoms (vomiting being the most common). Those exposed to e-cigarettes were more than five times more likely to require treatment at a healthcare facility than those involved with tobacco cigarette exposure. They were also more than twice as likely to have severe outcomes, with one child dying after exposure to liquid nicotine.

“I think it just underscores the toxicity of these products... We need to get these products out of the hands of children because they are going to continue to have these really serious poisonings unit we do so.” - Dr. Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Dr. Smith says pediatricians must educate parents about the dangers of e-cigarette products. They must be treated like other poisons and kept out of sight, and locked in a cabinet to protect their small children.

Liquid Nicotine can kill children

Vaping parents need to be educated. Even a drop of liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes can kill a child. It's poisonous within minutes when spilled on the skin. In 2014, a one year old child was the first recorded death in the U.S. from an e-cigarette refill spilling on a child. Now the poison control centers receive thousands of such calls every year.

should be aware that a very small amount of the liquid nicotine used to refill e-cigarettes can kill a child. The liquid also can be poisonous within a matter of minutes if spilled on the skin.

A 1-year-old child died from liquid nicotine poisoning in December 2014— the first such death in the United States. Poison control centers now receive thousands of calls each year about young children who have been exposed to vaping-related products.

Parents with small children, five and under must be extremely careful. Children under two years old are the most vulnerable, but other small children can be equally effected. Child-resistant packaging for liquid nicotine refills was required for all items sold in the U.S. as of 2016. A single teaspoon of concentrated liquid nicotine can be fatal for a toddler.

Symptoms of nicotine poisoning

If you think your child may have been exposed to liquid nicotine, don't take chances. Wash it off right away and call the the Poison Control Center hotline (800-222-1222).

Watch for symptoms, such as vomiting, fast heartbeat, jittery, difficulty breathing, increased mouth watering. If you have any symptoms causing immediate concern, especially involving difficulty breathing - call 9-1-1 right away.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Johnson City, TN
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