UL Announces New Standard for Products Using Lithium Button or Coin Cell Batteries

UL (Underwriters Laboratories), a global safety science leader, announces the creation of a new Standard for Safety for products that incorporate button or coin cell batteries using lithium technology. The new standard, UL 4200A, applies only to household-type products requiring these batteries that are used in areas where children are normally present.

The standard is intended to help reduce the risk of children removing button and coin cell batteries from a product and ingesting the batteries. These lithium batteries can cause serious injury and even death to a child, so keeping them securely within a toy or household item is a needed safety precaution.

Incidents involving button battery deaths and severe injuries have been increasingly prevalent. The incidents most often involve children under 4 years old. Severe problems can arise when one becomes lodged in the digestive tract or elsewhere in the body. The electric current produced by the battery can ionize saliva, forming a corrosive alkaline that damages surrounding tissues.

The strength of lithium batteries makes them a common choice to provide power in small-sized products. To help make their use safer, UL created the standard to help demonstrate that any product containing a button cell battery will maintain the battery inside the product during normal use.

Products that contain a removable battery are required by UL 4200A to defined methods to prevent the battery from being liberated. The standard details performance tests, including abuse tests, geared to probe a product’s potential for an accidental release of a battery.

UL 4200A also addresses how the product should be marked, including warnings about the potential hazard and that batteries should be kept away from children. The standard contains the specific language describing the harm batteries can cause if swallowed and the need for immediate medical attention.

UL 4200A is scheduled to take effect Nov. 10, 2015.