There’s been a hell of a lot of hysteria in the media recently centred around vaping – but one thing is for sure – liquid nicotine can in certain circumstances be extremely dangerous and possibly lethal.
But then again so can bleach – cosmetics and yeah even the good old peanut – but more on that later.
This week saw the Sun newspaper’s banner headline screaming ‘Vaping as Bad as Fags’. In fact, pretty much every newspaper in the world ran this story in one form or another.
Honestly you’d be forgiven for thinking ‘they’ didn’t want to save their readers from a slow tobacco related cancer death.
Of course the whole article was ripped from yet another ‘junk science’ report but hey don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story as my old newspaper editor never used to say 😉
Anyway I may be digressing from the topic of e-liquid poisoning, but once again that particular newspaper article shows just how much venom the global mainstream media seems to have.
How Deadly is E-Liquid?
So could e-liquid kill you..?
The simple answer is yes and no.
Let me explain.
If you are talking about 0mg nicotine e-liquids then I’m not sure if VG (Vegetable Glycerin) – PG (Propylene Glycol) and food flavourings/colourings could outright kill you even if you chugged a gallon.
But hey I’m no scientist so do your own research on that one!
However in 1850 a bad aristocratic couple from Belgium – the Comte and Countess de Bocarmé – knocked off a relative it is believed using nicotine.
It would appear over dinner they forced the poor bloke onto the floor and poured an unknown quantity of nicotine down his throat.
The Comte was a bit of a chemist on the quiet and had spent many months extracting nicotine from tobacco and testing the fatal dosages on cats and dogs until he felt he’d worked out the perfect dose.
He was taken to the guillotine a year later and from that moment on nicotine was classed as a dangerous poison.
What is a Lethal Dose of Nicotine?
So how much nicotine does it take to kill an adult I hear you ask?
The Comte’ confessed to using 2 vials – we do not know the strength of the nicotine he’d extracted nor do we know the size of the vials
Despite a ton of research into this there isn’t a scientific consensus. Various reports say digesting 5 cigarettes are likely to kill you and as for liquid nicotine in its purest form scientists seem to have hit on a dosage of between 30 and 60mg.
However it would of course vary between men and women and of course children.
And that dear vaper is where the anti-vaping lobby – including the mainstream media – seem to target vaping and in particular ‘sweet e-liquids’ – the children.
I sat through a couple of the House of Lords debates on vaping and every time one of them woke up with the cry ‘What about the children..?’ I groaned.
I mean come on whilst accidents of course sadly happen – the argument that vaping and in particular e-liquids should be banned and legislated out of existence in case a child dies from ingesting or getting it on their skin is just ridiculous.
I’m not being hard hearted here and of course I do know of the child in New York who died after apparently drinking from an e-liquid bottle.
A terrible terrible tragedy – but an unfortunate tragic accident made all the worse when you realize there was no child proof lock on the bottle.
This was the first recorded accidental e-liquid death.
Suicide by E-Liquid?
Two years earlier it was widely reported that a 29-year-old American man had committed suicide by injecting e-liquid.
However according to a report from The Poison Review there was little if any evidence he had indeed injected himself and eventually it was decided he had ingested e-liquid.
Suicide by e-liquid isn’t just an American thing either.
Last September BBC employee Jonathan Keen apparently became the UK’s first e-liquid suicide.
Mr Keen was known for mixing his own e-liquids as well as being a so called ‘functioning alcoholic’.
It’s understood on the night he took his life he’d been binging on cider and when his body was found there was various empty e-liquid bottles lying around.
Toxicology tests showed Mr Keen had a near-lethal dose of nicotine in his blood and Pathologist Dr Peter Johnson stated Mr Keen had died as a result of nicotine and alcohol toxicity.
Whilst the two suicides and the awful accidental death of a toddler are truly terrible – this whole question of e-liquids being killers needs putting into context.
E-Liquid Poisoning Rates Falling
Vaping advocates Public Health England recently stated:
Serious nicotine poisoning seems normally prevented by the fact that relatively low doses of nicotine cause nausea and vomiting, which stops users from further intake
Indeed they go further and say a 10ml bottle of e-liquid if drunk wouldn’t inflict ‘serious harm.’
I have to say if anyone has accidentally got a bit of e-liquid on their tongue it tastes bloody awful so it must take some concerted effort or planning to drink on purpose.
A recent report from the American Association of Poison Control Centers [AAPCC] states they:
Continue to be concerned about exposures to e-cigarette devices and liquid nicotine, especially children’s exposures
They report that more than half of the reported incidents involving contact with e-cigarettes and e-liquids involved children under 6-years of age. However they also state that this is entirely consistent with ALL forms of poisoning.
One can therefore assume that far from being the number one dangerous poison on the planet – e-liquids that contain nicotine are simply yet another health hazard [particularly to younger children] that parents need to be aware of and take steps to prevent accidents.
The AAPCC say:
Adults should use care to protect their skin when handling the products, and they should be out of sight and out of the reach of children.
Additionally, those using these products should dispose of them properly to prevent exposure to pets and children from the residue or liquid left in the container
If you look at the graphs plotting the exposures to liquid nicotine and e-liquids you can certainly see a marked decline in incidents.
It would appear the more the message that e-liquids containing nicotine can be dangerous is getting out the more we the adults take care of them – pretty much the same way we keep medicines and cleaning products locked away from our kids.
And there’s one of my mantras in life in a nutshell – “Education NOT Legislation.”
Peanuts and Cosmetics More Dangerous than E-Liquids
And speaking of things that are dangerous to people of all ages it’s a little sobering to think that more people die from such everyday things as cosmetics and peanuts than they do vaping and vape products.
Time to lock up your lipsticks ladies.
So to put it simply – don’t drink e-liquid – keep it and indeed your vape stuff away from children and pets – preferably locked away – and if you get any on your skin wash it off.
If the media decided to act as educators rather than hysterical soothsayers maybe many of these accidents would have been and would be avoided.
So no, the lovely tasting cloud building e-liquid that’s keeping you off the fags wont kill you if like most things you use it sensibly.