use unsafe counterfeit household batteries: Health
June 1, 2006
Health Canada is advising consumers
to exercise caution when purchasing batteries
and to inspect any batteries they already possess,
as there has been an increase of potentially unsafe
counterfeit household batteries (AA, AAA, D etc.)
being sold in the Canadian marketplace.
Counterfeit batteries are usually
imitations of well-known brands. Unlike legitimate
batteries, counterfeits are usually of poor quality
and do not meet industry standards designed to
protect the public from unsafe conditions.
Since January 2000, Health Canada
has received 86 reports of batteries that have
exploded, leaked, or overheated. 41 have been
in toys or products used by children. Eight children
have received burns. Many of these incidents involved
counterfeits. These batteries present a higher
risk of malfunction, mainly because they are not
constructed with adequate vent holes, a safety
feature that allows a means to release excess
pressure. In addition, counterfeit batteries often
contain mercury, a heavy metal that can damage
the central nervous system when ingested and can
harm the environment when the batteries are discarded.
Counterfeit batteries typically
do not have the same life-span as legitimate ones.
It is especially important to use high quality,
long-life batteries when replacing batteries in
safety devices such as smoke alarms.
When purchasing batteries, consumers
are advised to look for the following signs that
the product may be counterfeit:
- Inspect the items closely. Avoid
products with misspelled words on the packaging
and the product. Also check for poor print and
- Purchase batteries from reputable
establishments. Reputable establishments are
more likely to have refund or exchange policies,
and are less likely to carry counterfeit batteries.
- Watch out for unusually
low prices. This may be the best indicator the
product is counterfeit.
If consumers already possess
batteries they suspect to be counterfeit or
if the batteries become unusually hot or begin
to expand, deform or leak, they should stop
using them immediately and dispose of them as
household hazardous waste (local municipalities
can provide instructions on how to dispose of
household hazardous waste). Until the batteries
are appropriately disposed of, they should be
stored out of the reach of children, away from
sources of heat or flame and in such a manner
that they are not touching each other or any
If used improperly, non-counterfeit
batteries can also pose a health risk. Consumers
should always follow the battery manufacturer’s
instructions, as well as the instructions for
the battery-powered product.
Health Canada has published Guidelines
for the Safe Use of Household Batteries
For further information, consumers
can contact the Health Canada Product Safety office
nearest them, by calling 1-866-662-0666 toll-free,
or e-mail email@example.com
(if contacting via e-mail, please indicate the
province or territory from which you are corresponding).