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LiPo Cells in Toys: What Dangers Are Lurking in the Nursery?
Due to their high power density, Lithium Polymer (LiPo) rechargeable batteries are not only favored in a variety of applications, such as cellular phones and remote controls, but are also now finding their way into the nurseries of children.
A "Lithium Polymer" battery principally consists of a negative electrode, electrolyte and positive electrode as layered membranes. The outer skin of the battery is very thin and susceptible to physical puncture by sharp or pointed objects. In addition, the energy density is very high. These attributes give rise to potential dangers from the contents of the battery. It can lead to a chemical burn, skin and eye irritation as well as the risk of poisoning if swallowed. Also there are electrical risks and the dangers of explosion or a flash-fire and consequent burns.
Children do not show the same degree of caution in their behavior as adults. If an easily accessible battery awakens the interest of a child, it can quickly lead to physical damage to the battery and accumulator (http://www.ee.sgs.com/
For this reason, a material safety data sheet for the battery should accompany every product, specifying the actual material it contains. In an emergency, with irritation or poisoning, for example, the necessary information can be quickly obtained and suitable steps taken. If the manufacturer or supplier does not provide a safety data sheet, the information should be included in the user instructions, accompanied by details of treatment in case of contact with the contents – e.g. providing a number for the poison control hotline.
Since manufacturers and dealers are typically subject to intense competition and its resultant cost pressures, there is often less time and money invested in the product’s development and its components than it actually warrants. Chargers and batteries are mostly bought-in parts from a variety of suppliers, which were either purpose-built or must be adapted. These components are often not conceived to work in combination, but they are nevertheless employed with the toy.
Lithium Polymer batteries are electrically sensitive to overloading, short-circuiting, excessive current and to long-term storage in a fully uncharged condition. In many instances, the batteries become damaged or are completely destroyed. The safety data sheet should provide detailed information on what should be done if an explosion occurs, the battery catches fire or it leaks gases and electrolyte.
Products with LiPo batteries may always present a risk to children even when used as intended. Before purchasing toys powered with LiPo batteries, seek information from a specialist dealer, listen carefully to the advice given and inspect the enclosed operating instructions and safety data sheets closely. You may also find out whether test results by the relevant consumer protection agencies exist for the actual product as well as making sure the product has a seal of approval and certification by an independent testing company, such as SGS Consumer Testing Services (http://www.sgs.com/
About SGS E-Toys Services
At SGS we are committed to support manufacturers in delivering safe, high quality products to consumers. With E-Toys Services (http://www.sgs.com/
For further information please contact:
SGS Consumer Testing Services
Global Battery and Accumulator Technical Manager
SGS North America, Inc.
16870 West Bernardo Drive, Suite 250, San Diego, CA 92127 USA
t: +1 678 469 9835
SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognised as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With 64,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,250 offices and laboratories around the world.
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SGS Consumer Testing Services ensures the quality and safety of every kind of consumer products, from textiles, electronics and furniture to food and automotive.
For more information, please visit: http://www.sgs.com/