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Editorial: Danger of nicotine fluids is growing

The growing debate concerning electronic cigarettes has often focused upon the impact of the related secondhand smoke.

E-cigarettes, which are currently unregulated, are devices which allow the heating of a liquid into a vapor, which can be inhaled. The liquid contains nicotine — extracted from tobacco — and along with other chemicals plus flavorings. The nicotine remains addictive.

Gov. Mark Dayton said Tuesday that the current proposals this year to ban indoor use of e-cigarettes in public space may go too far. He told the StarTribune of Minneapolis that he likely would oppose such proposed restrictions.

The governor and the Legislature may be missing a growing danger of e-cigarettes: the growing incidents of accidental exposure to the liquid nicotine contained by the devices.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers issued a warning Tuesday about the growing number of poison exposure incidents across the nation.

The number of incidents has grown from 269 nationwide in 2011 to 459 in 2012 and 1,414 in 2013, according to the warning report. And there have been 651 reports as of Monday and March is not even over yet.

The report further noted that one-half of the incidents involved children under the age of 6. The symptoms often include nausea or vomiting. Some incidents were serious enough to require emergency room visits.

This e-cigarette liquid nicotine is often sold in a concentrated form by the gallon container.

The danger — for adults and children — comes from accidental ingestion or accidental absorption through contact with skin. One teaspoon of the concentrated liquid could kill small children, according to the poison control group.

This accidental exposure to the liquid nicotine products is dangerous for adults, but especially so for children, teens or pets. And the rate of accidental exposure is increasing nationwide.