E-cigarette calls on the rise at Upstate Poison Control, most involving children

Published 07/08 2014 07:07AM

Updated 07/08 2014 05:48PM

Calls to poison control centers around the nation and locally at Upstate Medical University have seen a dramatic increase in recent years.

In 2010, the national average for calls to a poison control center involving e-cigarettes was one per month. This year, the average is 215, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control.

Upstate Hospital says it is seeing that increase in Central New York too. Only halfway through 2014, doctors have received four times the calls they did in all of last year.

Most alarming to doctors, more than 50 percent of the calls around the nation involve children under the age of five.

E-cigarettes have refillable nicotine, either replaceable cartridges or dropper bottles. Children can be poisoned by getting a hold of either type, either left out or irresponsibly discarded.

"Such a small quantity is required to cause illness, even the exchanged cartridge or refill container throwing in the trash can could lead to exposure for a child," said Dr. Christine Stork, Clinical Director at Upstate New York Poison Center. 

The nicotine comes in different concentrations and only a small amount can be harmful, possibly lethal.

“This report raises another red flag about e-cigarettes. The liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes can be hazardous,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden in the national report. “Use of these products is skyrocketing and these poisonings will continue. E-cigarette liquids as currently sold are a threat to small children because they are not required to be childproof, and they come in candy and fruit flavors that are appealing to children.”

Doctors advise to treat e-cigarette devices like a poison, keep it out of reach and watch it closely if it has to be out.

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