Exposure to e-cigarette liquids, whether intentional or accidental, might lead to adverse events.This study aimed to describe the prevalence and characteristics of exposures to e-liquids reported to French Poison Control Centers.
All e-liquids exposure cases reported to French Poison Control Centers from July 1, 2019, to December 31, 2020, were reviewed. Information was collected about the patient’s characteristics, exposure circumstances, management and outcome.
919 cases of exposure to e-liquids were reported. Ages ranged from one month to 89 years, with a mean age of 16.6 ± 18.6 years and a median age of 4 years. The highest number of exposures – 50.7% – concerned infants (0-4 years), 3.1% children (5-11 years), 5.9% adolescents (12-17 years), and 40.1% of cases concerned adults. The majority of cases were accidental (95.0%). Intentional exposures (4.9%) were mainly observed in patients older than 12 years of age (P <0.001). The route of exposure was ingestion in 73.7% of the cases. A total of 455 exposures showed no symptoms or signs related to poisoning. High nicotine concentration in e-liquids was associated with an increase in hospital management (Odds-ratio from 1.77 to 2.60).
Involuntary exposures to e-liquids occurred more often in children under the age of five, mainly by ingestion. Unlike intentional ingestions, unintentional ingestions rarely resulted in severe adverse events. These findings highlight the importance of ongoing surveillance to prevent such exposures and associated injuries, emphasizing the need for effective regulation of these products.
The findings show that reports of exposures to e-liquids containing nicotine to Poison Control Centers are increasing, which may be explained by a greater public awareness of risks associated with e-cigarettes. Nonetheless, involuntary exposures to e-liquids are still frequent and occur more often in children under the age of five, mainly by ingestion. Our study underlines the need to continue to declare any new product’s composition to competent authorities and to prevent exposure for children by increasing public education.