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Lithium Battery Shipping Label 2020 - Update and Requirements
2. Is Lithium Battery Dangerous Goods?
Lithium batteries can be very dangerous when they are not handled with care. They contain hazardous chemicals that pose a fire and explosion hazard.
As of 22 January 2020, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US had reported 268 incidents of fire, smoke, or extreme heat caused by lithium batteries.
With these safety hazards in mind, international shipping authorities classify them as dangerous goods.
IATA classifies lithium batteries as dangerous goods under its Dangerous Goods (DG) Regulations. This puts them in the same class as petrol (gasoline), natural gas, and sulphuric acid!
One of the reasons that safety hazards involving lithium batteries are treated so seriously is that any fires they cause are almost impossible to put off using conventional methods.
Fire suppression systems onboard aircraft use a special gas called Halon to deny fire of oxygen. However, a lithium battery fire burns too hot aided by oxygen released from inside it, which means that it can be very destructive.
When shipping internationally, your package has a high chance of ending up on an aircraft. This is why IATA regulations are followed by all major shipping and freight forwarding companies.
While transporting lithium batteries is possible and easy, the only way to maintain safety is to follow these regulations set up by experts.
3. Overview Of Lithium Battery Shipping Requirements
To play your part in maintaining safety standards when shipping lithium-ion batteries, you need to be aware of what regulations are in place.
The UN, IATA, FAA, and other major organizations have extensive rules and regulations that apply to lithium-ion batteries. This is a condensed version that is much easier to remember and implement.
Lithium batteries are classed as non-rechargeable lithium metal and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which includes LiPo batteries.
Secondary (rechargeable) batteries are classed depending on their capacity in watt-hours, voltage, and the number of cells.
Batteries with a capacity of 100Wh or more, or that have cells with a capacity of 20Wh or more fall under full IATA Section I regulations.
Operator approval is mandatory for such batteries, and they must not exceed 8g in lithium content or 160Wh capacity.
Batteries with a total capacity under 100Wh or cell capacity under 20Wh fall under Section II of IATA regulations.
Such batteries should be carried as carry-on passenger luggage.
The batteries should be fully enclosed in packaging material such as blister wrap to provide shock and contact protection.
All exposed leads or contacts must be covered with non-conductive tape or plastic.
If the batteries are contained in the devices they operate, it should be turned off and protected from accidentally turning itself on.
The batteries should be in a sturdy outer container.
The outer packaging must have the lithium battery label with the UN number for the battery type with a place for telephone numbers.
Except in the case of medical equipment or devices that remain active during shipping, all other batteries must not be in a state of charge (SoC) that exceeds 30%.
For devices shipped with spare batteries, they should not have more than two of these. The device and batteries should be in the same protected package.
Never ship recalled, damaged, or malfunctioning batteries or devices with such batteries by air. Contact the manufacturer for further information.
International bodies continue to monitor the safety levels of shipping lithium batteries. More regulations and laws are expected.
The bottom line is that while the batteries themselves are not dangerous if handled properly, everybody needs to take proper responsibility to minimize the danger to which such batteries expose us.