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The Danger of Cooking Spray and Explosion Risks—An Overview

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spam cooking spray fire illustration

There have been numerous recent reports of aerosol cans of cooking spray—such as PAM brand cooking spray—exploding near the stove and leaving victims with severe burn injuries. Innocent consumers across the United States have been victims of severe bodily injuries, including burns to their hands, face and neck, due to a seemingly innocent pantry staple violently exploding on them.

If you have an aerosol spray can of PAM cooking spray, you should read the information below and in our following three articles that will overview the dangers of these cans, the design defects that are causing these explosions and the injuries suffered by unsuspecting victims, and whether a lawsuit could be a path forward for you.

The Danger of Exploding Cooking Spray Cans: A Violent History.

Sadly, it’s not breaking news that innocent consumers are falling victim to exploding aerosol cans of cooking spray. In fact, this danger has a well-documented history in America; still, however, these hidden dangers are still sold by the millions in grocery stores nationwide.

There have been dozens of victims claiming that aerosol cooking spray cans have exploded violently without warning, leaving them scarred with serious injuries and burns.

Perhaps one of the worst cases involves an Ohio woman who was cooking by the stove in 2017, using a can of PAM brand cooking spray while she cooked food at the stovetop. All she could recall about the incident was that she was cooking, putting a fork in the pan, when the explosion blast happened in a moment. She said that the next thing she realized was that she was on fire.

The woman suffered severe burns to her face, neck and chest. Doctors said that had her eyes been open at the moment of the blast, she would likely be blind. She suffered from her injuries for weeks as she recovered in an outpatient facility. She struggled for months to return to normal activities, like dressing herself and bathing.

Experts reviewing this fire and similar fires say that the aerosol can of PAM cooking spray overheated from the heat of the nearby stove, or fell into a flame of the stove, and as a result of the heat combusted into a fireball explosion. Similar cases have occurred across the United States, in Connecticut, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and others.

So Why Do These Explosions Keep Occurring?

Because of the violent nature of these explosions—and the resulting serious injuries—naturally there have been numerous investigations into the cause of the blasts.

These investigations include reports by expert scientific witnesses who have testified about the cause of the explosions in several of the lawsuits that have come from these explosions, brought by innocent victims seeking reimbursement for their horrific injuries.

After a scientific review, these experts concluded that a design flaw in the aerosol cooking spray cans were the likely cause for the explosions.

Each of the cans that caused an explosion had vents along the bottom of the cans. The evident intent of these vents was to help release the pressure from the can, to help prevent it from exploding during normal use. But it turns out that these vents were doing the exact opposite.

Instead of releasing the internal pressure from the cans, the vents were releasing air at much lower, and much less-pressurized levels than should be released from an aerosol can vent. These levels were well below what would be necessary to release pressure from the can to ensure safety during use. And because of the low temperature and pressure, the air released was extremely flammable.

This flammable air released from the aerosol cooking spray cans, when combined with either heat from a nearby stove or by accidentally being dropped in a hot stove, triggered an immediate and violent blast. The resulting explosions were essentially fireballs, exploding right in the face of the victims.

We’ve written a detailed overview of the design defect of these cans, and why that could be important to recover damages if you’ve suffered injuries from an exploding can. You can read more here.

What Kinds of Injuries Occur from These Explosions?

Exploding cans of cooking spray can cause immediate—and horrific—injuries. These injuries are those that would typically come with a large fire or violent explosion, such as:

  • First degree burns to exposed areas, such as the neck, hands, face and chest;
  • Second degree burns in these areas that penetrate both the outer and middle layers of the skin and can take weeks to recover;
  • Third degree burns in these bodily areas that penetrate the deeper tissues of the body and can cause lifelong injuries and deformations, and can take months to heal;
  • Blindness from open eyes at the time of the explosion;
  • And death.

We’ve outlined the types of injuries and cases that have occurred as a result of these dangerous devices.  You can read more here.

What Can Victims of these Cooking Spray Explosions Do?

If you’ve been a victim of injury from a cooking spray can explosion, there are laws that protect you and legal options that can help you recover for your hospital bills, physical disrepair to your home and other damages you suffered from the explosion.

In the United States, we have consumer protection laws, both at the state and federal level, that are meant to protect you in situations like this where a consumer product is unsafe. Products sold to consumers in stores—like PAM brand cooking spray—must comply with these laws. Products like cooking spray must be safe for “ordinary use,” which means how a reasonable person would use the product according to the package instructions.

Hiring an experienced product liability litigation attorney is always in your best interest if you’ve been a victim of these explosions. Having a knowledgeable attorney at your side when facing a global manufacturing company in the courtroom can significantly increase the changes of obtaining a favorable result, whether that is at settlement or at trial. Victims attempting lawsuits without an attorney have reported much lower compensation, as they face intimidating large companies and their attorneys.

You can read about how you could bring a lawsuit to recover damages for your injuries and damages in our article here.

So if you or someone you love has suffered injuries from a cooking spray can explosion, you should read further through our articles on the design defect of the cans, the types of injuries these explosions have caused, and how you could recover damages for your suffering through a lawsuit.

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Trump Administration Wants to Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes

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The Trump administration announced that it plans to propose a ban on flavored e-cigarettes. The goal is to reverse the alarming trend in underage kids who are vaping.

A New Ban on Flavored Vaping Products

According to the Health and Human Services secretary, the FDA plans to develop guidelines on removing flavored electronic cigarettes. The only product which would be allowed would be tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes. Before the restrictions can take effect, the agency will need to develop rules, and the public will have a chance to input their opinions.

This proposal would only impact vaping products containing nicotine since those are regulated by the FDA. Other products may still remain unregulated. The FDA has delayed banning flavored vaping products even though it has been able to since 2016 when the first regulations came into effect. It had stated that it wanted to study flavored products to determine if they assisted adults in switching from traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes.

An Alarming Situation

With the recent health scare where over 450 people have developed lung illnesses tied to vaping, advocates for regulation and parents are calling for more restrictions and enforcement. Many experts believe that the flavors are much of the reason for the increase in vaping by teens.

This ban would have a strong impact on manufacturers and distributors in the vaping industry. Many of them have made their reputation and built a solid business on flavored products. Juul is one of the largest vaping manufacturers with a large share of the market. The company has developed mint, fruit and other flavorful products to entice users.

Even though Juul and others say their products are designed to appeal to adult smokers who want to stop using tobacco products, evidence suggests that one of the growing markets is with teens.

Taking Action

As the medical field searches for answers as to the exact cause of the illnesses, the CDC and other organizations are recommending that people stop vaping. So far, six people have died because of the illness. The link that ties everyone together is that they all were using e-cigarettes or vaping devices. Some had nicotine in them, but not in every case. The situation has caused alarm for parents, schools, and others who see the increase in underage vaping as dangerous.

The First Lady had recently tweeted about the situation and voiced her concern about children vaping. She stated that she was “deeply concerned” about this issue. The FDA recommends that people not buy vaping products off the street, not alter those they buy in stores and not to use any oils made with marijuana.

Along with the federal investigation, states are conducting their own investigation into the mysterious illnesses that have been diagnosed just since August. The hope is that a ban on flavored products will reduce the appeal to kids and teens. Some studies show evidence that vaping can lead to other drug use, including smoking tobacco and even using cocaine and heroin.

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Sixth Fatality from Lung Disease Linked to Vaping

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The sixth person has died from a lung illness which is being linked to e-cigarettes and vaping. This person was over 50 years old and lived in Kansas, and it is the first such death in the state.

Growing Concern Over the Dangers of Vaping

Concern is growing over the safety of e-cigarettes and vape pens after more than 450 people have become ill with a mysterious lung disease in the last few months. Five of them have died prior to the person in Kansas. The other deaths were from Oregon, Minnesota, California, Illinois and Indiana. The first death came from Illinois and was reported in August. Oregon was next, followed by Minnesota.

This situation is widespread with the illnesses being reported in 33 states as well as the US Virgin Islands. There is an ongoing investigation but no definitive cause has been found yet. The one link between the deaths is they all used e-cigarettes, but even the ingredients used are different. Each state is conducting its own research. In New York, officials have discovered that vitamin E acetate was found in the products of those that got sick in the state. However, this may not be the case for other states.

Companies that manufacture e-cigarettes and other vaping devices are being investigated in New York. Samples obtained show that the thickeners in the vape liquids are almost pure vitamin E acetate.

Taking Action

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people stop using these products while the investigation is going. Anyone who notices symptoms of illness should report it to their doctor right away if they are continuing to use the electronic cigarettes. Symptoms to be concerned about include coughing that won’t go away, chest pain and shortness of breath. The American Medical Association and American Lung Association are also advocating for people to avoid e-cigarettes.

To counteract the alarming trend, organizations and government are taking action. The FDA has sent warning letters to Juul, one of the leading manufacturers of vaping products, warning them to stop marketing to teens. They have a short time to comply or the company faces penalties, including fines and seizure of the products.

New York has proposed legislation that would make the sale of flavored e-cigarettes illegal. Michigan has already passed a similar law. San Francisco has a new ordinance in place that banned all e-cigarette sales within the city limits.

The FDA has initiated an educational campaign about the dangers of vaping. The agency has also developed a policy to restrict retail stores from selling flavored products which are accessible to those who are underage. The policy also requires websites that sell e-cigarettes to provide verification of the age of buyers and to limit the number of products they can purchase. While the FDA is taking action, some critics think the agency should do more. They want to see e-cigarettes regulated like tobacco products and all those that are unregulated should be shut down. Retail stores that sold to underage kids would pay heavy penalties similar to what happens with alcohol and tobacco cigarettes.

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Schools Get Serious about Vaping

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Some schools are starting to get serious about how they handle students who are caught vaping. The changes come as a result of an increase in the number of teens and elementary age kids who are experimenting with e-cigarettes and vaporizers.

The Serious Risks of Vaping

Schools are going beyond the traditional means of discipline, such as detention, when kids are caught with vaping devices. One school district in North Texas is enforcing the rules by putting those who violate them in a special disciplinary school for one month. Another school, this one in Alabama, is removing doors from the bathroom stalls. Numerous other schools have installed sensors in the bathrooms which can detect smoke.

These actions come as concern for the health risks of vaping grow. Over 450 people have been diagnosed with a mysterious lung illness from vaping. Six people have died. Many of these diagnosed are young adults and teens who appear to be healthy. The American Medical Association issued a statement to encourage all people to stop using vaping devices and e-cigarettes until a cause for the illnesses can be determined.

While e-cigarettes were initially developed as an alternative to tobacco cigarettes for smokers, they have developed a wide appeal for non-smokers. In fact, they have become quite popular with young adults and teens. Almost three million school-age kids used electronic cigarettes and vape pens in 2018, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Schools have banned these devices from being on school property, but it hasn’t kept kids from bringing them in. Part of the issue is they look innocent enough. Juul vaping devices resemble a flash drive. They are small and discreet, so that users don’t get caught. These vaporizers don’t have any smoke and often don’t have a scent. Kids can keep them in their pockets or purses and not be detected by school officials.

Schools Take Action

School districts are getting creative about finding the e-cigarettes and vape pens as well as how they respond to a student when they violate the rules. One district has kids roll up their sleeves when they arrive to search for e-cigarettes.

Demand for sensors placed in bathrooms has gone up significantly. In fact, one company has provided sensors to schools in 46 states.

The FDA has warned manufacturers of electronic cigarettes to work to reduce underage use. Some manufacturers appear to target a younger audience through bold ads and labeling vaping devices as cool and trendy.

As more schools recognize the seriousness of vaping among teens and those even younger, it is expected that they will take further action. Instead of warnings and detention, which don’t seem to deter action, schools are hopeful that more serious consequences will act as deterrents. Whether it’s sending the kids to an isolated school for a month or removing stall doors from bathrooms, school districts are proving that they are serious about protecting kids from the dangers of vaping. It’s too early to know if these changes are effective yet.

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