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93 Descriptive epidemiology of lithium battery thermal runaway-related injuries in the United States from 2014–2018
  1. E Andrew Kapp,
  2. Rachael Beer,
  3. David Wroth
  1. Underwriters Laboratory Inc


Objective Lithium batteries have the potential to overheat and explode, causing injury to users of consumer devices like cell phones, laptops, and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). Given the widespread use of such products, it is critical to further understand how often such injuries occur and the circumstances surrounding them.

Methods The CPSC monitors consumer product-related injuries using their National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), which compiles reports from a representative sample of US emergency departments. Hospitals submit patient information including circumstances of injury, diagnosis, body part injured, and demographic information. To identify cases related to lithium batteries, NEISS data were filtered using diagnosis codes, product codes, and word stems in text narratives.

Results From 2014–2018, there were 138 recorded emergency department visits associated with malfunctioning lithium batteries. Implementing the complex survey design of NEISS data, this translates to an estimate of 5,000 such injuries nationwide. Visits occurred mainly due to ENDS (48%) and cell phones (23%). 81% of incidents involved men and boys. 20% of patients were admitted to the hospital. Injuries were commonly caused by products exploding (64%) or overheating (35%) and characterized by being kept in one’s pocket (39%) or being in use (17%) at the time of injury.

Conclusions This study provides valuable information on the number and type of lithium battery-related injuries treated in US Emergency Departments. Identifying the most common circumstances of injuries will inform future research on the development of safety features in these commonly used devices, as well as potential opportunities for consumer education.

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