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Consumer Safety Warning: Serious Injury or Death Can Occur if Lithium-Ion Battery Cells Are Separated from Battery Packs and Used to Power Devices

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning consumers not to buy or use loose 18650 lithium-ion battery cells.  These cells are manufactured as industrial component parts of battery packs and are not intended for individual sale to consumers.  However, they are being separated, rewrapped and sold as new consumer batteries, typically on the Internet.

The Dangers of Loose 18650 Battery Cells

Rechargeable lithium cells without proper protection that are not installed in a device or as part of an integral battery (“loose cells”) are potentially hazardous to consumers when handled, transported, stored, charged, or used to power devices.  Specifically, these battery cells may have exposed metal positive and negative terminals that can short-circuit when they come into contact with metal objects, such as keys or loose change in a pocket.  Once shorted, loose cells can overheat and experience thermal runaway, igniting the cell’s internal materials and forcibly expelling burning contents, resulting in fires, explosions, serious injuries and even death.

In addition, thermal runaway can occur in loose cells if consumers use them in inappropriate chargers that allow for charging beyond the cell’s specifications.  Unfortunately, a growing number of small consumer products, such as vaping devices, personal fans, headlamps, and some toys, are using loose 18650s as a power source.  CPSC is working with e-commerce sites, including eBay, to remove listings selling these loose cells. 

Do not use loose 18650 lithium ion cells that are separated from battery packs.  They are often misused as a stand-alone consumer battery, but do not have protection circuits.  For additional information on high-energy battery safety, please visit: https://www.cpsc.gov/Regulations-Laws--Standards/Voluntary-Standards/Topics/Batteries/

CPSC urges consumers to report problems with lithium-ion batteries to CPSC at: www.SaferProducts.gov


About the U.S. CPSC
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products.  Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually.  CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.

Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.

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