Notes on Child Nicotine Poisoning and E-Cigs

Klaus Kneale
by Klaus Kneale
13 Comments
November 14, 2012

The electronic cigarette community is a bit touchy about inflated danger claims the FDA, media, or other organizations might make about electronic cigarettes.  It’s hard enough to fight the assumed guilt attached to anything that looks and acts like a cigarette.  But when local level media act like they have the inside scoop or the real story, but are using inaccurate danger claims from more than 2 years ago, even we feel the sting.

One of Saint Louis’s local news stations is doing a week-long look at What’s Poisoning Our Kids.  Their first look: electronic cigarette e-liquid (the liquid e-cigs vaporize).  You can watch the report here.

According to the report, “Experts also say e-liquid, absorbs quickly and can lead to nausea and vomiting. And because of the concentrated amount of nicotine, there’s a high risk for seizures and even death in children.”

We decided to do a little research and see what we could find.  Let it be known that we are not medical experts and would love to have a true medical expert with an understanding of nicotine poisoning provide us with more specific information.  But until we can find one, we’re stuck with our understanding of e-liquid and the internet’s understanding of nicotine poisoning.

For a child, the LD50 (that is, the dose necessary for a 50% chance of death) is around 10mg.  This really isn’t that much.  A 5ml bottle of e-liquid with a nicotine rating of 12mg has 60mg of nicotine in it.  This is actually enough to hit the LD50 of an adult that doesn’t smoke–presuming they’re dumb enough (or inebriated enough) to drink the bottle.  So should parents with e-liquid keep it away from kids?  Hell, yes.

Although the variety of flavors available is one of the major advantages the e-cig market currently enjoys, a toy-sized bottle that says cherry or chocolate or banana pudding on it in colorful letters does need to be kept under lock and key.  If kids are willing to try their parents’ nicotine patches or nicotine gum (two sources of a few nicotine poisonings), they’ll definitely try a bottle of nicotine liquid.

That’s not the only concern.  Nicotine can be absorbed through the skin very easily–so easily that nicotine harvesters are known to get green nicotine poisoning just from exposure to tobacco leaves.  A quarter milliliter of e-liquid can be more than enough to cause problems for a child if it is absorbed into the skin.  From there, nicotine goes straight to the blood stream.

Most cases of nicotine poisoning can be treated and individuals that survive the first 4 hours generally return to their full health.  The point of all this is that chances shouldn’t be taken.  Parents that use e-liquids should treat them the same way they do drugs, cleaning supplies and beauty products.

Common signs of nicotine poisoning are nausea, vomiting, weakness, paleness, fainting, seizures, and stomach pains.  In the event of nicotine poisoning, seek medical attention immediately.

Comments

13 Responses to “Notes on Child Nicotine Poisoning and E-Cigs”

      JeannieK on November 14th, 2012 5:51 pm

      I would like to point out that yes, we should keep our liquid out of the reach of children. Keeping it on a counter is not a good idea. I also think it is a good idea to NOT keep it under the sink with the rest of the poison items in your house.

        Toweknee on November 14th, 2012 6:24 pm

        I hope this is pretty much standard practice of vapers with children, Mine is always locked up in a security box , placed up high and not in plain sight. If children can get to your juice you probably have more problems that storing nic juice. I would hope everyone practices safe storage with kids around. This is just common sense IMO.

          Keyzy Yerxa on November 14th, 2012 8:48 pm

          “Before we start declaring electronic cigarettes as a major risk for child poisonings, let’s have some perspective on poisonings from the Poison Data System of the American Association of Poison Control Centers for 2010 (most recent available):

          Tobacco products total exposures: 8,335 (Children Under 12: 89%)
          Deaths: 0 Major injury: 0 Moderate: 151 Minor: 1,773

          Pharmaceutical nicotine product total exposures: 1,231 (Children under 12: 13%)
          Deaths: 0 Major injury: 0 Moderate: 51 Minor: 234

          E-cigarette/nicotine liquid total exposures: 29 (Children under 12: 21%)
          Deaths: 0 Major injury: 0 Moderate: 1 Minor: 11

          Compared to…

          Household Cleaners total exposures: 180,493 (Children under 12: 65%)
          Deaths: 21 Major injury: 194 Moderate: 4,492 Minor: 71,219

          Food Poisoning total exposures: 24,514 (Children under 12: 22%)
          Deaths: 9 Major injury: 34 Moderate: 1,394 Minor: 5,795

          Source: https://aapcc.s3.amazonaws.com/pdfs/annual_reports/2010_NPDS_Annual_Report.pdf

          http://keyzygirlsecigvapeblog.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/how-ridiculous-are-people-and-why/

            Sylvie on November 14th, 2012 9:52 pm

            child poisioning with e-liquid cannot happen if parents use their brains!! you do not leave harmful chemicals/etc out or were any child can reach it period!! so there is no real issue with children nicotine poisioning and ecigs, just issues with brainless parenting…

              unclerj on November 14th, 2012 11:06 pm

              Indeed we all need to keep our children safe and sound.

              I am glad that this issue has been raised if just to bring awareness of the possible danger.

              But it all just comes down to being responsible parents in the first place and remembering that anything that can fit in the mouth will be going into the mouth regardless of the label.

                sandi on November 15th, 2012 12:01 am

                Nicotine like any other drug should be kept well out of harms way. The temptation is just too much with all these different flavours and colours.

                  Mike on November 15th, 2012 11:50 am

                  Everything of my own is kept out of reach of my children. I have a 6 and a 4 year old. They also know not to touch a THING, and never have.

                    Johnathan Brown on November 15th, 2012 9:18 pm

                    Atleast the exposure rate is down compared to a lot of others – but i can totally see a huge risk to them if the parent isnt careful. Currently my daughter is less than a year – so having them anywhere high up is safe – for now. However as she gets older i’m probably going to have to put them in a box i can lock.

                      Mike on November 19th, 2012 12:01 pm

                      and animals

                        MorrinB on November 27th, 2012 5:27 am

                        Keep your liquid away from kids…just like all the other poisons in your house.

                          Adam on January 3rd, 2013 8:06 pm

                          That is great news! I always feel bad smoking cigarettes in public when people push strollers by.

                            Bill Godshall on February 21st, 2013 4:43 pm

                            Just noticed this posting from November.

                            Please note that there has never been a confirmed case (anywhere in the world) of nicotine consumption causing a human death.

                            Therefore, there is no known lethal dose of nicotine for children or adults. Besides, it would be unethical and illegal to conduct that type of research (because it would require giving increasingly higher doses of nicotine to participants until they die).

                            I’m not even aware of any research conducted on humans whereby they are given double, triple or quadruple levels of nicotine (than they typically consume) to study its impact.

                            Excessive exposure to nicotine has long been known to cause temporary illness, however, as many tobacco farmers (due to excessive transdermal exposure) have suffered “green tobacco sickness” when harvesting and hanging their crops. That’s why tobacco farmers wear long sleeves and long pants (and often wear gloves) when harvesting tobacco.

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