SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) - The Utah Poison Control Center is issuing a warning about electronic cigarettes. The center says its seen a 350% increase in children being poisoned by these products.
The liquid nicotine in the cartridges used to refill the e-cigarettes is extremely toxic. It's rapidly absorbed through the skin, so it doesn't even need to be ingested to be dangerous.
Barbara Insley Crouch, Executive Director of the Utah Poison Control Center tells ABC 4 News, "as little as a drop has a potential to cause toxicity in a small child."
The liquid nicotine, or E-juice, is often colorful, it smells sweet and comes in flavors such as cotton candy, apple pie and even captain crunch.
"The look-a-likes are a big thing for a toddler who cannot read labels and so they're very much attracted to smells, colors and flavors so it's an attractive solution," said Crouch.
In 2011, the Utah Poison Control Center saw only 6 calls for e-cigarette exposure. In 2012, that number more than doubled to 15. In 2013 the number ballooned to 72. Already this year the number of e-cigarettes poisoning calls is up to 66.
Nicotine poisoning can start out with a bit of nausea, but Crouch says, "it can very rapidly process to seizures then collapse, coma and cardiovascular heart collapse."
Currently the Food and Drug Administration doesn't regulate the concentrations of nicotine in the cartridges and doesn't require child-proof caps. Rather than waiting, last February the Davis County Board of Health decided to create regulations of its own. Now the cartridges have to be clearly marked, leak-proof and child resistant.
Lewis Garrett, Director of the Davis County Health Department told ABC 4 News, "The concern here really is to not keep these products out of the hands of adults that want them and choose to use them, the concern here is to protect primarily the children."
Currently several other counties are following Davis County's lead. 11 out of the 12 county health departments are now looking into legislation to keep kids safe from e-cigarettes.