There are three main areas of concern when dealing with batteries:
- Environmental protection
- Risk of fire
- Risk to children
There is also a risk of acid burns from lead acid batteries if they are incorrectly handled.
Some batteries contain lead, mercury, and cadmium. These are heavy metals that are ecotoxic and if released into the environment can pass through ecosystems and food chains. The effect of mercury on the natural environment is well known.
Risk of fire
With the advent of lithium batteries, which are able to source high currents, fires have been reported due to overheating during charging, and also as a result of physical damage. In the domestic market it has affected mobile phones, laptops, and hover boards. This has also affected commercial products such as bus passenger ticket readers and camera equipment.
There have been a number of recalls of batteries both in New Zealand and overseas.
Risk to children
The main risk to humans is the risk of children swallowing the smaller button cells. This risk can be eliminated by keeping new and used cells out of reach of children at all times.
- The Battery Controlled – information on children and button cell safety
- Safety Alert – Lithium Polymer (LiPo) Battery Fires – New Zealand Fire Service