E-cigarette liquid can be deadly, especially to children
Nicotine is among the most toxic substances on Earth.
Death can occur after ingestions as small as 40 to 60 milligrams in adults or just 1 to 2 milligrams in children, depending on their size.
Toxicologists at the Upstate New York Poison Center have consulted about children ingesting whole cigarettes or cigarette butts. Considering that each cigarette contains from 13 to 30 milligrams of nicotine and each butt contains 5 to 7 milligrams of nicotine, a child could have significant toxicity after ingesting one cigarette or a few butts. (That‘s just 1 to 2 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.)
As electronic cigarettes gain in popularity, more calls come to the poison center regarding the liquids used in e-cigarettes. The liquids generally have concentrations of 10 milligrams of nicotine per milliliter of liquid. That means adults and children could develop significant toxicity after ingestion of just a few drops of the liquid.
Toxicity can lead to paralysis and a slowed heart rate and breathing. Seizures are also possible.
Here‘s the scary truth: “There is no antidote for nicotine toxicity,” toxicologists Robert Seabury and Christine Stork write on a blog for health care professionals. They advise prompt emergency medical care that is tailored to the patient‘s symptoms.
This article appears in the winter 2019 issue of Upstate Health magazine.