But another way it can be harmful is direct contact.

In its purest form, nicotine, which is extracted from the tobacco plant, can be toxic to the touch. But the product juice-makers buy, often in jugs or barrels, already is diluted to about 10 percent. If enough gets absorbed through the skin, from a broken vial, for instance, it could make a person nauseated to the point of vomiting.The real danger, though and the thrust of the New York Times story is the possibility that children could happen upon a vial of juice and ingest it.
“These fluids e in flavors that are attractive for kids,” said Dr. Helene Calvet, deputy county health officer for Orange County’s Health Care Agency. “If a kid gets hold of this and sucks down even a small amount, it could be pretty dangerous.”

Nicotine would be potentially fatal for an adult who ingests 0.5 to 1.0 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. But for children, that threshold could be as low as 0.1 mg per kilo, says Dr. Chesda Eng, a smoking-cessation specialist with St. Joseph Heritage Medical Group in Garden Grove. If a child ingests “maybe a teaspoon, that can be lethal.”Some e-cig proponents took serious issue with The Times’ reporting: nicotine levels in most juicers “range between 1.8 percent 18 mg per ml and 2.4 percent, concentrations that can cause sickness, but rarely death, in children. But higher concentrations, like 10 percent or even 7.2 percent, are widely available on the Internet.”

“We feel that it is unnecessary to be that high in the first place,” said Nguyen, who is a co-partner of an Anaheim juice-maker, Epic Juice. A vial that’s 2.4 percent would mostly be used by a long-term smoker trying to maintain his fix until he can reduce the dosage.The New York Times noted that Minnesota’s poison-control center received 74 calls in 2013 related to poisoning cases from e-cigs or nicotine. Of those, 29 were children 2 and under. But an e-cigarette advocacy group called the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association noted that same center received 35 calls about nicotine-replacement therapy products, as well as 2,300 calls for household cleaners and 3,100 calls related to personal-care products.

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