Inhaled vapors from battery!!!

Wurkkos
Status
Not open for further replies.

LED61

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 18, 2006
Messages
1,085
Location
Central America
I had a very scary situation last night. I want to post it here so that fellow CPF´rs will avoid it and the dangerous potential it has.

I have been savoring of my soon to arrive SF M6. Knowing of the high current demand, I have been all over Newbie´s, Silverfox´s and LunarModule´s threads to learn as much as possible about batteries and avoid dangerous pitfalls. It makes me angry that I was so stupid so as to have this happen to me after all this research to avoid this very thing. Nonetheless, it happened and I´d like to tell all about it.

Last night, at around 9 PM., I was unpacking a new shipment of Sanyo made in China CR 123 primary Lithium batteries, 20 of them to be exact, that came neatly packed in plastic sealed bags. They all looked good to me, as I would test them soon with my new ZTS tester before use. Then, accidentally, I dropped one of them from about 4 feet. The impact is what I would consider mild and I was not alarmed, nonetheless, a strange but non- repulsive smell was felt. I looked at the battery, and out of instinct and without much thought picked it up, pulled the positive end with the vent holes up close to my nose and inhaled to see if the battery was venting!! (how stupid could I have been!!, after all the research to avoid this very thing) AAGGHH!! I immediately placed the battery outside and swore this would be one battery I would not be using in the flashlight. I did this too because, after all, maybe only a battery explosion would be dangerous right ?? I forgot about the incident and headed upstairs to watch a movie on TV.

Then, about 20 minutes later, it hit me. Surprisingly and out of the blue, I started coughing violently, felt a severe shortness of breath along with chest pain. My arms and legs started to weaken on me and go "cold". A rush of panic set on me and I immediately linked the episode to a reaction of the inhalation of vapors from the dropped battery.

I woke up the wife and my 18 year old son, and briefed her on what was happening to me and where I thought it was coming from. We agreed to review LunarModule´s accident and do research on the internet on what to do. We also agreed to take an immediate drive to the emergency room at the hospital if the episode was to repeat itself or if there was any indication of a worsening of the situation. The episode itself was momentary, possibly around 20-30 seconds. We pullled an MSDS sheet here

http://www.bu.edu/es/labsafety/ESMSDSs/MSHydFluoricAcid.html#anchor888417

and pm´d a fellow CPF´r whom I hold in high regard for his experience and knowledge for guidance. Unfortunately, he was unavailable. OH wait, here it comes again!! another episode, this time though without the chest pain and not as severe as the first one. We rushed to the hospital, wife driving me, and into the emergency room and to the doctor. We explained what had happened, and surprisingly the doctor was well versed in this type of poisonous inhalation. He could relate to all the symptoms, and concluded I had inhaled dangerous Hydrofluoric acid vapor. The delayed reaction, he said, was due to the bloodstream absorbing the vapor and hence the shortness of breath, chest pain,and weak limbs. A third episode took place while in the emergency room but this time it was much less than the first or second episodes. It has been about 14 hours since this incident, I did not get much sleep last night but not because I felt bad, only very scared.

Hydrofluoric acid will, with a possible delayed effect, affect the nervous system, respiratory tract, lungs, and impair the cardiovascular system. Those effects are from inhalation only, more severe effects including weakening of the bones and a host of other things if ingested or from wounds such as LunarModules. i.e. skin contact.

WHAT I LEARNED AND MY DOCTOR SAID TO ME:

1) DO NOT DELAY a trip to the emergency room in the hospital if you have inhaled, ingested, or came into skin contact with Lithium battery venting.

2) Have someone else drive you to the hospital if possible. You could become quickly and without warning completely impaired. Oxygen and emergency treatment by qualified personel are your only chances of survival after cardiac arrest or if you are unable to breathe.

3) DO NOT ASSUME you are OK if you as much as think you´ve been exposed to battery fumes, EVEN IF the battery seems to be OK and explosions are not a requisite.

4) Keep handy antidote in the form of calcium gluconate saline solution for inhalation or in gel form for skin cuts or burns. Intravenous solutions are a possibility and must be administered by hospital personnel.

This incident was very mild compared to other cases, but I assure you fellow CPF´rs, it is very scary and dangerous. A battery can start to vent if mishandled or dropped as in my case, it does not have to explode. It happened to a name brand chinese made CR123, it does not have to be a "cheap battery", this one cost me $2.00 a piece.
Don´t ever pull the vent holes in the positive end of the battery up close to your face or nose like I very stupidly did. If you suspect a battery is venting, just toss it aside.

Hopefully somebody else will benefit from this post.
 

greenLED

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 26, 2004
Messages
13,263
Location
La Tiquicia
Scary. Hope you continue to improve.

Thanks for the warning. Makes me think we should start storing these out of the reach of children... :thinking:
 

GreySave

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 13, 2006
Messages
686
Location
Erie, PA
<<I looked at the battery, and out of instinct and without much thought picked it up, pulled the positive end with the vent holes up close to my nose and inhaled to see if the battery was venting!! (how stupid could I have been!!, after all the research to avoid this very thing)>>

LED61.....You were not being stupid. What you did was an almost instinctive reaction and something that any one of us might have done. The key to not taking the sniff test is situational awareness and taking the time to think about what has happened and how to correctly respond. That's not an easy thing to do. I know that I am guilty of doing things I would later consider as foolish, and I am sure many others here have done the same. Even trained responders can make a mistake or forget basic common sense at times. It is a part of being human. The important thing is to learn from a mistake, and you have done a great service by helping to educate all of us and by reinforcing the need for all of us to stop and think a moment before reacting to a similar situation.

Thank you for taking the time to pass along your experience and I wish you well.
 

LED61

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 18, 2006
Messages
1,085
Location
Central America
Thanks guys I am Ok and it´s been about 16 hours already. hopefully I´ve seen the end of it with no aftermath.

Green LED, you are definitely right on. These batteries should be kept out of the reach of children. The warnings in the labels fall short of reality. I could not imagine a battery starting to vent just because I dropped it.

I have compared my surefire batteries, batterysttions, Sanyo´s with the OEM Duracelll that HDS shipped with my U60. I even compared that Duracell Ultra with an older Duracell and I can now appreciate the difference in the positive end. I´m not sure on the technicalities, maybe Tom or Newbie would educate us better on this but the thing is the Duracells appear to be much better construction with a metal lining on the positive end vrs. a plastic in the others. It is also apparently heavier.
 

greenLED

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 26, 2004
Messages
13,263
Location
La Tiquicia
Grey, yeah, that instinct for sniffing things might've saved our ancestors from eating rotten food, but it can get us in trouble also. It's one of the first things you learn in lab safety: don't *ever* sniff directly out of a container!

LED, did the doctor tell you to keep watching for symptoms for a couple of days? Any estimates on how long it'll take for this to clear from your system? Other potential/longer term issues from the poisoning?

:candle:
 

RA40

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 15, 2004
Messages
1,397
Location
So. Cal
Scary!!!
I have various states of discharge 123's sitting on my desk. Brrr... Out to the grage they go for the recycling.
 

cutlerylover

Banned
Joined
Oct 5, 2006
Messages
1,147
Location
Pennsylvania, USA
I am really glad top hear you are ok...its stories like this that get me worried about using cr123's...I know that there are thousands of them being used every day but there is always that one time and thats all it takes...but then again if I really thought about it over the course of a day there are hundreds of things that could go wrong and have dangerous results...Its good to know stuff like this to try to prevent this from happening again...Now im paranoid...lol, seriously though Im glad to hear you are ok, and thank you very much for the information!
 

prof

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 2, 2005
Messages
463
Location
Western TN
First and most important, I'm glad you're ok. I understand sniffing--very natural reaction. I'm glad you had your wife drive you to the hospital--very good decision. Let us know how this progresses, please.

When I first joined CPF, I read a post where someone said that AA batteries were dead and 123s were the future. As a AA fan (actually a fan of standardizing items) that bugged me. Now, after not so many months, the shoe is on the other foot.

I also agree that the warning labels are not sufficient. I'm moving my small supply WAY out of my childrens' reach. My little boy is into everything these days...
 

NiOOH

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 14, 2006
Messages
382
Hi LED61.
First and most of all, glad to hear that you are OK and well.

Hydrofluoric acid is indeed a dangerous chemical, both as a fume and in liquid form. IMO, as a chemist it should not be allowed in consumer products.
 

IsaacHayes

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 30, 2003
Messages
5,876
Location
Missouri
Wow. At first I thought you were just talking about the "flashahol" smell that they normally have, sweet type smell. But then I read were you got sick! I guess that short drop was enough for a reaction! I hope you have no further symptoms!!!

Do li-ion rechargeables emit hydrofluoric acid as well when damaged? I know they can get hot/vent etc if abused, but I was wondering if they had the same toxic nasties or not?
 

LED61

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 18, 2006
Messages
1,085
Location
Central America
Thank you all very much for the well wishes. It´s been around 19 hours already since this happened, and I only had a minor headache for about two hours this morning and right now mild pain on the left side of my rib cage. I´m constantly updating my doctor on this, but he seems more concerned about my lungs and mucous membranes in the respiratory tract. He does say however that exposure was apparently not in a high enough level to cause any severe damage. The biggest damage from severe inhalation would have been a pulmonary edema (water in the lungs).
How much of these minor discomforts have been caused by anxiety I don´t know. I am for sure anxious especially since most material safety data sheets do warn effects may be delayed for up to 24 hours.

green LED, the doctor did ask me to keep him posted as stated above. He said the liver will work hard to remove the toxins but he said that it would be as fast as the liver was capable. Obviously anyone with a history of Hepatitis (which I´ve not had) or any other liver disease or heavy drinkers or smokers would not fare very well in this. The trouble is you never know how much is too much for you. These effects are from inhalationonly thank God for that. If you were to get this stuff in your skin it would work its way into your bones and decalcify them and, unlike Hydrocloric acid, you would not notice an immediate burn in the skin. Mucous membranes are particularly sensitive to these vapors but it probably is not as big a problem as substance in the skin.

RA 40, be careful not to mix those batteries in multi cell applications

Cutlerylover, true on usage of the cells, but if you look closely most devices use Lithium in single cell applications like laptops, cell phones or cameras. Even then, Sony and Dell had millionaire recalls of laptop computers with defective batteries. The department of transportation has prohibited the carriage of Lithium cells aboard passenger aircraft. If you carried your flashlight using primaries aboard, you could very well be ordered to dispose of your cells if you wanted to take your flashlight aboard.

Mr.Al, according to Newbie´s battery tests Li ion rechargeables can be even more dangerous.

Al, thanks for your comments.
 
Joined
Feb 14, 2006
Messages
2,724
LED61 said:
If you carried your flashlight using primaries aboard, you could very well be ordered to dispose of your cells if you wanted to take your flashlight aboard.

I think they prohibit primary lithium as cargo on psgr flights, but it's alright as check-in/carry on luggage for the psgrs. If what you said was right, they'd make you pop out the CR2032 from your calculator, watch, laptop CMOS backup, car remote key, etc.
 

KROMATICS

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 2, 2006
Messages
562
prof said:
When I first joined CPF, I read a post where someone said that AA batteries were dead and 123s were the future. As a AA fan (actually a fan of standardizing items) that bugged me. Now, after not so many months, the shoe is on the other foot.

They make lithium versions of AA batteries though so it's probably more about what's inside the battery than what size it is.
 

LED61

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 18, 2006
Messages
1,085
Location
Central America
Handlobraesing said:
I think they prohibit primary lithium as cargo on psgr flights, but it's alright as check-in/carry on luggage for the psgrs. If what you said was right, they'd make you pop out the CR2032 from your calculator, watch, laptop CMOS backup, car remote key, etc.

yes, you are actually correct, I did overstate the prohibition. Nonetheless, I found this interesting article

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06227/713653-96.stm
 

David_Campen

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 29, 2004
Messages
674
Location
California
Do li-ion rechargeables emit hydrofluoric acid as well when damaged?
No, and neither do Lithium 123 primaries. I suspect that the adverse effects LED61 experienced were wholly psychosomatic.
 

cutlerylover

Banned
Joined
Oct 5, 2006
Messages
1,147
Location
Pennsylvania, USA
This question is for everyone...

How often does somethign like this happen with CR123's? I mean vent like that or explode when used? I know its rare but how rare? I just want to be cautious when using them...In what cases do poeple have problems with these batteries? Also would it be safer to store them inside or outside of the flashlight? I only need batteries in one light at a time...
 

Sigman

* The Arctic Moderator *
Joined
Sep 25, 2002
Messages
10,122
Location
"The 49th State"
Thank you for that informative post! I NEVER get tired of safety education!! Indeed hoping your recovery continues!
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Latest posts

Top