Nicotine and eLiquid Safety
What is nicotine?Nicotine is a toxic substance found in the tobacco plant (Nicotiana tabacum). Nicotine is easily isolated from the plant for use in other products such as eLiquid.
eLiquid SafetyAnyone who uses eCigarettes or personal vaporizers with a nicotine cartridge or nicotine infused eLiquid may be exposed to nicotine. When used properly, small amounts of nicotine are absorbed through the lungs and mouth. Accidental exposure is often through the skin on the hands. I cannot stress how important it is that you wear non porous gloves (latex or nitrile for those who are sensitive to latex) when handling eLiquid or mixing your own eLiquid. In general, nicotine levels in the final product range from 8mg/ml up to 36mg/ml. Levels higher than this are generally considered too strong for direct use. Nicotine infused propylene glycol can be purchased from some suppliers for mixing your own eLiquid. These concentrations often come in strengths of 60mg/ml or more and are highly toxic and dangerous. We strongly suggest you leave these strengths to the professionals, however if you do use them, use extra care when handling these concentrations.
Accidental ExposureOccasionally people are accidentally exposed to higher amounts of nicotine. This can easily occur when handling eLiquids. Nicotine ingestion occurs when eLiquid comes in contact with the skin or is ingested via the mouth. The nicotine in eLiquids easily pass through human skin. If eLiquid does contact your skin, wash it off immediately with soap and warm water. This is 99 times out of 100, effective in avoiding an accidental nicotine overdose. I have done this many times myself with no ill effects. However, skin contact or ingestion of nicotine can cause nicotine poisoning. The severity of symptoms and time until symptoms begin depend on the form of the nicotine and the amount ingested. If enough is ingested to cause illness, effects are felt within 30 to 90 minutes. If the nicotine is in eLiquid effects may appear in 15 to 30 minutes. Symptoms of mild nicotine poisoning include dizziness, nausea or vomiting, stomach pain, weakness and increased drooling. More severe poisoning may result in abnormal blood pressure or heartbeat, slowed or interrupted breathing, general sluggishness, seizures and coma. No long-term effects of nicotine ingestion have been identified. If the dose is extremely high, death can result. Dosages like this are not likely without intentional ingestion.
How does nicotine affect children?Infants and children are especially susceptible to nicotine. Symptoms of nicotine poisoning have been seen in children who have eaten one-half piece of nicotine gum, a cigarette, cigarette butt, or bitten into a nicotine patch. Although I have been unable to find any cases with eLiquid, I assume the results would be even more gruesome. If you have children in the house, child proof storage of your ecigarette supplies are a must. Incidentally, a small child can be killed by eating as little as one cigarette butt from a traditional cigarette, so the same care should be exercised with these products.
Is there a medical test to show whether I've been exposed to nicotine?Hospitals can screen the blood or urine for nicotine. Clinical tests are rarely run to confirm nicotine exposure because nicotine is rapidly eliminated (1.5 to 2 hours maximum) by the body and the test results often detect nicotine from smoking or exposure to second hand smoke.
What treatments are available?If you suspect nicotine ingestion you should contact poison control immediately. There is no antidote for nicotine poisoning. Treatment is aimed at supportive care and monitoring the patientís breathing and vital signs. Do not discard any product believed to be responsible for causing nicotine poisoning and bring them with you to the hospital.
--Mike Donohue, Director of Operations, ARES eCig.com
References: Duldner, John. "Nicotine poisoning." MedicinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Washington D.C.: U.S National Library Of Medicine, 2010. Web. http:/www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002510.htm