July 30, 2014

Poison expert: Electronic cigarettes bring new list of health hazards

Electronic cigarettes may help smokers to quit but the devices can be dangerous if they’re left within reach of a child. The Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center is seeing a slight uptick in calls that deal with e-cigarettes, especially the liquid nicotine inside them and the refill bottles.

Tammy Noble, a registered nurse and spokeswoman for the Sioux City-based center, says to keep e-cigarettes and the refills locked up.

Noble says, “We would recommend, just like any type of poison or hazardous substance, especially when you have children in the home, is to keep them out of sight and out of the reach of children.”

A report from the Centers for Disease Control says the number of calls to poison centers nationwide about e-cigarettes is on the rise, though Noble says the Iowa facility has only gotten eight calls about them this year. Still, she says, people need to be very cautious with the devices and be aware of the hazards.

“The e-cigarette products have high amounts of nicotine and they can come in flavors like chocolate and bubble gum and strawberry so they’re very attractive to children,” Noble says.

A curious kid could quickly be in bad shape if they get a hold of a bottle of highly-concentrated liquid nicotine.

“Nicotine can be very toxic, especially for a small child,” Noble says. “A little bit of nicotine can cause some vomitting and diahrea and upset stomach, but when you get larger amounts, swallows of it, it can increase the heart rate and do worse things like seizures.”

The fluid has the potential to be fatal, she says, though she’s not aware of any child deaths attributed directly to drinking it.

The Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center’s hotline is 800-222-1222 or visit: www.iowapoison.org