Cell Phone Batteries: CPSC, CTIA Working Together to Keep Consumers Safe

To promote the safe use of cell phones, batteries and chargers, the CPSC and CTIA-The Wireless Association recommend these tips.
May 13, 2005
Release Number: 05-174

Cell phones are ubiquitous in today's modern culture, with more than 170 million wireless consumers making billions of calls each year in the United States. While the convenience and usefulness of wireless devices add to their growing popularity, it is increasingly important for consumers to follow guidelines on the maintenance of wireless phones and batteries.

Lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries, which are commonly found in today's cellular phones, have a lot of energy in a small package. Li-Ion batteries are more sensitive to physical stress than alkaline batteries found in toys and flashlights and need to be treated with more care.

To promote the safe use of cell phones, batteries and chargers, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and CTIA-The Wireless Association, the trade organization representing various facets of the wireless industry, recommend the following:

  • Do not use incompatible cell phone batteries and chargers. Some Web sites and second-hand dealers, not associated with reputable manufacturers and carriers, might be selling incompatible or even counterfeit batteries and chargers. Consumers should purchase manufacturer or carrier recommended products and accessories. If unsure about whether a replacement battery or charger is compatible, contact the manufacturer of the battery or charger.
  • Do not permit a battery out of the phone to come in contact with metal objects, such as coins, keys or jewelry.
  • Do not crush, puncture or put a high degree of pressure on the battery as this can cause an internal short-circuit, resulting in overheating.
  • Avoid dropping the cell phone. Dropping it, especially on a hard surface, can potentially cause damage to the phone and battery. If you suspect damage to the phone or battery, take it to a service center for inspection.
  • Do not place the phone in areas that may get very hot, such as on or near a cooking surface, cooking appliance, iron, or radiator.
  • Do not get your phone or battery wet. Even though they will dry and appear to operate normally, the circuitry could slowly corrode and pose a safety hazard.
  • Follow battery usage, storage and charging guidelines found in the user's guide.
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    "CPSC has received reports of incidents and injuries involving cell phones batteries and chargers in a variety of environments," said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. "CPSC will continue to do its part by investigating and recalling batteries that present a safety hazard, and we ask that consumers do their part by following some basic safety steps in their day-to-day use of cell phone batteries."

    Steve Largent, President and CEO of CTIA commented, "The wireless industry is committed to providing outstanding products to consumers and we want to make sure they're aware of how to properly care for and use those products." Largent also cited the industry's collaborative effort with IEEE, a prominent technical-standard setting organization. They have formed a working group, of which the CPSC is a member, to develop industry-wide standards for battery design and performance. Authorized laboratories will test batteries to these standards for the purpose of certifying compliance.

    "The work we're doing in developing battery standards and our cooperation with U.S. Customs and law enforcement agencies regarding counterfeit operations are clear illustrations of the industry's dedication to proactively and voluntarily recognizing its important role in serving its customers," added Largent.

    CTIA and CPSC also urge consumers to properly dispose of their old batteries and equipment. All major carriers have recycling programs. For more information, go to www.recyclewirelessphones.com  

    CTIA-The Wireless Assocation™ is the international association for the wireless telecommunications industry, representing carriers, manufacturers and wireless Internet providers.