Schumer cites AP story about more than 100 ex­plo­sions from de­vices

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By The As­so­ci­ated Press

new york» U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is increasing the heat on the fed­eral govern­ment to con­sider re­call­ing e-cig­a­rette bat­ter­ies and de­vices that ex­plode and catch fire, in­jur­ing users.

Schumer, a New York Demo­crat, has called e-cig­a­rettes “tick­ing time bombs” and said they con­tinue to cause in­juries in­clud­ing se­vere burns.

At a news con­fer­ence Sun­day, Schumer cited a re­cent As­so­ci­ated Press story say­ing the FDA iden­ti­fied about 66 ex­plo­sions in 2015 and early 2016 af­ter record­ing 92 ex­plo­sions from 2009 to Septem­ber 2015.

He said he wants the U.S. Con­sumer Prod­uct Safety Com­mis­sion and the U.S. Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion to fig­ure out why so many de­vices, many from China, are ex­plod­ing. He said the re­cent in­juries are proof fed­eral ac­tion is needed.

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and that seems to be the case — again and again — for many pop­u­lar e-cig­a­rettes that have in­jured dozens of peo­ple,” Schumer said. “With any other prod­uct, se­ri­ous ac­tion would have been taken, and e-cig­a­rettes should be no ex­cep­tion. De­spite the ex­plo­sions, no re­calls have been is­sued. It’s ra­dio si­lence from both the in­dus­try and the feds, so that’s why I’m sound­ing the alarm.”

E-cig­a­rette user Ka­t­rina Wil­liams, a New York freight man­ager, said she wanted a safer al­ter­na­tive to smok­ing reg­u­lar to­bacco cig­a­rettes and thought e-cig­a­rettes were the an­swer — un­til one ex­ploded in her pocket in April as she drove home from a beauty salon.

“It was like a fire­cracker,” she said, as it seared third-de­gree burns in her leg, blasted through her charred pants and stuck in the dash­board.

As the use of e-cig­a­rettes has in­creased dur­ing the past year, sim­i­lar painful ac­ci­dents have been recorded with greater fre­quency, with faulty lithium-ion bat­ter­ies seen as the likely cul­prits. The same types of bat­ter­ies are used safely in many con­sumer elec­tron­ics, but they’ve been be­hind fires in hover boards and smart­phones.

The AP story said the num­bers kept by the FDA may be an un­der­count. Just one hospi­tal, the UW Medicine Re­gional Burn Cen­ter at Har­borview Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Seat­tle, said it has seen more than 20 pa­tients with e-cig­a­rette burns since it started track­ing them in­for­mally in Oc­to­ber 2015.

The in­dus­try main­tains e-cig­a­rettes are safe when used prop­erly. The To­bacco Va­por Elec­tronic Cig­a­rette As­so­ci­a­tion en­cour­ages proper recharg­ing of the bat­ter­ies as a way to pre­vent pos­si­ble in­juries.

The FDA has said it’s re­view­ing e-cig­a­rettes and will eval­u­ate their bat­ter­ies, in­clud­ing “am­per­age, volt­age, wattage, bat­tery type” and other is­sues.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer calls e-cig­a­rettes “tick­ing time bombs” and is call­ing for re­calls. As­so­ci­ated Press file

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