CPSC Approves New Coin and Button Battery Standards to Prevent Child Swallowing Injuries

More than 40 children have died in the United States since 1997, after swallowing a button battery or coin battery, according to the federal safety officials

Federal consumer protection regulators have approved mandatory rules for button cell and coin batteries, in an effort to reduce injuries and deaths from young children swallowing them.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted on September 11 to approve button cell and coin battery mandatory standards that comply with Reese’s Law, which was enacted on August 16, 2022, and requires the agency to put in place federal safety requirements to protect children from products containing the small batteries.

The new regulation calls for consumer products containing button cell or coin batteries to have specific battery compartment closures and warnings. The CPSC hopes these measures will prevent some of the thousands of injuries that continue to occur every year, which are linked to young children swallowing the tiny batteries.

Button and Coin Battery Swallowing Risks

The small batteries are widely used in a range of consumer products, like remote controls and thermometers. However, coin or button batteries are small and easy for young children to access and swallow.

When a child swallows a button or coin battery, the consequences can be deadly, and side effects occur quickly. The acid from the battery can burn through a child’s throat or esophagus in as little as two hours.

From 1997 to 2010, 14 children died, and more than 40,000 children were treated at U.S. emergency rooms for battery injuries. More than 75% of children affected were under the age of 4 years old. From 2011 to 2021, there were 27 deaths and more than 54,300 injuries treated in emergency rooms linked to ingested button cell or coin batteries.

In the past, doctors used the “wait and see” approach to battery ingestions treated in hospital ERs. But recommendations issued in 2019 began calling for doctors to quickly remove the batteries endoscopically, citing possible serious internal injuries to the stomach and intestines.

Button and Coin Battery Standards

The new regulations first enacted by Reese’s Law were initially voluntary, but the CPSC’s vote on Monday makes them mandatory.

The standards require any consumer product containing button cell or coin batteries to include a battery compartment that requires a tool, like a screwdriver or coin, to open, or requires two tools used at the same time.

The CPSC is also adding additional labeling requirements, and calls for the products to pass a series of tests to determine reasonable use or misuse.

All products using the small batteries must also comply with Poison Prevention Packaging Standards for child-resistant packaging. The new regulations do not apply to batteries manufactured or imported on or before Feb 12, 2023.

Button cell and coin batteries are used in a wide range of consumer products, from wireless game controllers, toys, greeting cards, decorative lights, and keyless entry remotes.

The new button regulations will go into effect in 180 days.

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Coin and Button Battery Safety Recommendations

The CPSC recommends parents and caregivers always keep batteries away from children, especially if the battery compartment is easy to open and does not have screw closures. Always check toys at home to ensure the compartments are screwed in or secured shut.

Children who swallowed button cell or coin batteries should be taken to the nearest emergency room, the CSPC urged.

The National Capital Poison Center recommends giving children over 12 months old 10 mL of honey every 10 minutes on the way to the emergency room for treatment. This can help reduce injury during the critical period between ingestion and when the battery can be properly removed.

Parents can contact the National Battery Ingestion Hotline at 800-498-8666 or the Poison Help Line at 800-222-1222 for immediate treatment information if a child swallowed, or is exposed to, button cell or coin batteries.


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