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Lithium-ion Battery Safety Tips & Proper Disposal

Rechargeable Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are commonly used in cell phones, laptops, household electronics and even automobiles. They work well in these products, but Lithium-ion batteries can pose unique safety hazards which have resulted in explosions and fires.

Most people have propably heard about the problems with Samsung cell phones catching on fire. Unfortunately, this problem is not an isolated incident. Faulty batteries have damaged airplanes and freight trucks, and earlier this year caused a huge explosion on a freight train in Houston. A Union Pacific freight car was carrying a load of Li-ion batteries to a recycling plant when one of the batteries caught on fire and led to multiple batteries exploding. The explosion was large enough to damage homes in the neighborhood where the train was passing through.

So far this year, our Washtenaw County Home Toxics Reduction Program has taken in 4 of these batteries that had the potential to explode. These images clearly show the batteries bulging:


If you ever have a Lithium-ion battery that is bulging, please do the following:

  1. Isolate the battery from anything else by putting it in a zip lock bag or other similar container.
  2. Place it in a cardboard box by itself.
  3. Contact our Home Toxics Reduction Program as soon as possible. Please call 734-222-3810. We are available by appointment during weekday business hours to take your batteries for proper disposal.


To dispose of a Lithium-ion battery that is worn out (and is not bulging), please do the following:

  1. Keep them separate from all other battery types.
  2. Place tape at both ends of a AA, AAA or similar shaped battery, and around any exposed metal of Li-ion batteries used for power tools or other electronic equipment.
  3. Bring it to our Home Toxics Reduction Program


Note that you do not need to tape other kinds of batteries; only Lithium-ion batteries.


For additional questions or concerns about Lithium-ion batteries or other home toxics, please contact Jon Tulman at 734-222-3810.

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