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Chuck Schumer: FDA needs to research exploding e-cigarettes

Chuck Schumer called on the Food and Drug

Chuck Schumer called on the Food and Drug Administration to consider issuing recalls on e-cigarette batteries and devices that have caught fire and exploded, injuring dozens of users. Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin

Sen. Charles Schumer is fuming.

The incoming Senate minority leader urged the Food and Drug Administration on Sunday to use data the agency has collected on exploding e-cigarettes to look for patterns and possible recalls.

Schumer cautioned that the erupting devices are a “huff, puff, explode” situation, and more research needs to be done about them.

“They’ve got to get moving. We’ve had a recent rash of explosions here in New York and elsewhere,” Schumer said. “If there is a pattern of brands, the public should know it right away and they should recall some brands, those that are particularly susceptible to exploding.”

Schumer, citing data from the FDA, said there have been 92 incidents of e-cigarettes that have overheated, caught fire, or exploded between 2009 and 2015.

A representative for the FDA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Schumer said it’s also possible the problem stems from the batteries that are being used in the devices.

There has been a spate of devices catching fire from their lithium-ion batteries, including Samsung smartphones and hoverboards. The batteries in the e-cigarettes, Schumer said, aren’t quite the same as those other devices.

“But it could be. Most of the batteries come from China,” he said. “China has a poor safety record across the board when they export stuff to us.”

This month, he said, a 24-year-old off-duty Bronx EMT suffered second-degree burns on his thigh and right hand when his e-cigarette exploded in his pocket while he was driving.

And in November, a man suffered third-degree burns when his e-cigarette exploded as he worked in a wine store at Grand Central Station. Earlier this year, a 14-year-old boy was severely injured when an e-cigarette exploded in his face at a vape shop at the Kings Plaza Mall in Mill Basin, he added.

Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to Sen. Chuck Schumer as the incoming Senate majority leader. He is the incoming Senate minority leader.


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