Reports of children and teenagers being poisoned by e-cigarette fluid rose sharply in 2013 compared to the previous year, according to the Minnesota Poison Control System.
The liquid, known as e-cigarette juice, is used to fuel tobacco vaporizers. A news release from the Minnesota Department of Health Tuesday said that the vials of liquid can contain nicotine levels fatal to children, and that kids sometimes mistake them for candy or food.
In 2012, the poison center received five reports of poisonings among people under 20 related to the cigarette alternative. In 2013, that number jumped to 50. Calls to the poison center have included reports of people swallowing or inhaling e-cigarette juice, getting it in eyes or on skin.
Several calls to the center in 2013 involved infants who swallowed e-juice, although the department said no children were hospitalized or seriously injured last year by exposure to e-juice.
The department said a fatal dose of nicotine for an adult is between 50 to 60 milligrams, and less for children. E-juice containers typically contain 18 to 24 milligrams. Symptoms of nicotine poisoning include nauseau, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and difficulty breathing.
No state or federal law currently requires manufacturers of e-juice to disclose ingredients or require child-resistant packaging. Bills now moving through the state House and Senate would restrict the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and prohibit their use indoors and in public spaces under Minnesota's Freedom to Breathe Act. The bills do not directly address the problem of children being poisoned by e-cigarette fluid.