Lithium Ion Batteries & Health Issues

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Lithium ion batteries hold more than twice the energy life then regular nickel cadmium batteries do, which is why they are the number one batteries worldwide. Lithium ion batteries were pioneered in the early 1920's, but didn't become a popular household item until the 1970's. Both rechargeable and non-rechargeable types have powered computers and other related electronics since then. However, there are certain safety precautions that must be taken in order to avoid health issues.

Eye Issues

  • The effects of an exploding battery can be quite damaging to eye tissues. Fire can aggravate a battery to explode, and the corrosive material inside the battery cells can get sprayed right into the eyes, causing severe pain. The eyes need to be washed for a good 15 minutes straight, and medical attention should be sought immediately thereafter. Blindness is most definitely a potential threat from this kind of lithium ion battery explosion.

Skin Issues

  • Skin issues can also be a result of exploding lithium ion batteries. Additionally, handling of batteries that are leaking the material from the cells can cause both allergic reactions and severe burns to the skin. When this occurs, you need to remove any clothing that has become contaminated, flush the affected areas with cool water for 15 minutes, then wash with soap and water. Topical burn creams can be used afterward. Seeking medical help may be necessary.

Throat and Gastrointestinal Issues

  • With regard to throat and stomach issues, ingestion of the solution in the battery's cells along with ingesting cobalt itself, which is a known carcinogen, can be harmful to the delicate tissues of the throat and stomach as well as become a cause for cancer in the affected areas. If this occurs, giving water to help dilute what has been ingested, while getting immediate medical attention, is mandatory. If the person who has ingested it loses consciousness, do not give anything by mouth.

Lungs and Breathing Issues

  • Although inhalation does not normally occur, unless there is a fire, vapors and fumes can irritate the tissues of the nose, throat and lungs. If this occurs, the person who has inhaled the vapors or fumes from an exploded battery must be brought to fresh air, immediately seeking medical attention thereafter. The victim might require oxygen. Normally, medical teams will assess the need for this once having arrived on the scene.

Precautionary Measures

  • The main precautionary measures with regard to proper handling and disposing of lithium ion batteries are:
    Never expose the battery cells to water or seawater.
    Never damage or remove the external tube.
    Never expose it to strong oxidizers.
    Never give it strong mechanical shock or throw down.
    Never disassemble, modify or deform the battery.
    Never connect the positive terminal to the negative terminal with electrically conducive material. Always use a proper charger to charge the battery.

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