Liquid Nicotine: Just a Teaspoon Could Kill
Poisonings, and sales, are on the rise
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2014 6:54 AM CDT
In this Feb. 20, 2014 photo, a liquid nicotine solution is poured into a vaping device at the Henley Vaporium in New York.   (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

(Newser) – It can be bought on the Internet in flavors like chocolate and bubble gum—and just a teaspoon could kill a child: The New York Times takes a look at liquid nicotine, the e-liquid used in e-cigarettes, which it describes as a "powerful neurotoxin ... far more dangerous than tobacco." And with good reason: Reports of accidental liquid nicotine poisonings rose 300% from 2012 to 1,351 cases last year, with 2014's figure expected to be double that. The victims, many children under the age of four, can experience vomiting and seizures after being exposed to even a modest amount orally or through the skin. The Minneapolis Star Tribune notes that the bottles often convey their flavors with potentially enticing photos of fruits or chocolate, which could attract youngsters; teens, on the flip side, may be combining it with energy drinks to get high, per Fox News Insider.

"It's not a matter of if a child will be seriously poisoned or killed. It's a matter of when," says a director with California's Poison Control System. "This is one of the most potent naturally occurring toxins we have. One tablespoon could kill an adult." And it's an unregulated toxin (bottles, for instance, don't have to be childproof), sold legally to anyone with a reusable e-cigarette. That "reusable" part may be a factor in the rise of poisonings; the Times points out that at their introduction, e-cigarettes were largely disposable. Now they're more commonly reusable devices that owners fill with the e-liquid, a mix of nicotine, flavorings, and solvents, and the CEO of one e-cigarette franchise predicts as much as 2 million liters of the liquid will be sold in the US this year. Most contain nicotine levels in the 1.8% to 2.4% range, which would be unlikely to kill; but liquids at deadly concentrations—say, 7.2%—are simple to obtain online.

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Showing 3 of 28 comments
Tengu ?? Slayer of Vanity
Mar 24, 2014 8:14 PM CDT
Nicotine is used for tranquilizer darts.
Pitchfork
Mar 24, 2014 4:16 PM CDT
What about the children!!!!?????????
Ezekiel 25:17
Mar 24, 2014 4:13 PM CDT
A now deceased acquaintance once took me to one of his acquaintances for a visit. This guy was a serious conspiracy nut case. Way more than me. He built his own home and included a Faraday cage in the walls prior to putting up drywall. So he takes me to the center of the room that is his communications room. It has a second layer of Faraday cage in its interior walls. His internet connection is based on a high gain yagi antenna pointed to a motel 3 miles away and he taps into their open wifi. I notice a 55 gallon drum sitting in one of the rooms filled with cigarette butts and am fearful of asking because I have a theory. After we leave, I ask the buddy about it. He says the guy goes around to bowling alleys, bars, and sports stadiums collecting the butts. I remember reading where a person was arrested for steeping the nicotine out of the filters of such an amount of butts. I never heard of any incidents about this guy though.