Danger of button batteries in kid’s toys underscored

The EcoWaste Coalition, a environmental group campaigning for children’s safety against harmful chemicals, has reminded parents to pay close attention to button batteries in toys and other products.

The group’s latest toy safety reminder was triggered by a Facebook post that has gone viral about a young girl named Scarlett who accidentally put a button battery from a Halloween devil headband into her left nostril.   The said Fb post by Scarlett’s mother Rose Chavez can be viewed here:
https://www.facebook.com/tonyrose.chavez/posts/2800748959950770

“Toys powered by button batteries can pose serious health risk to young children.  Button batteries in costume headbands, for example, can come loose, get swallowed or pushed into the nostril or ear by an innocent child,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Aside from toys, button batteries are often found in other children’s products such as fashion and hair accessories, shoes and talking books, as well as in hearing aids, holiday ornaments, musical greeting cards, pocket calculators, thermometers, wrist watches and other portable electronic devices.

If accidentally ingested, the button battery could get stuck or lodged in the throat and cause chemical burns in just two hours.  In some instances, an ingested button battery may pass through the intestines and eliminated in the stool.

If accidentally pushed into the nasal cavity, the button battery may cause mucous membrane injury, fissure or hole in bone and cartilage of the nose, scar tissue formation, and cellulitis of the eyelid.

If accidentally placed in the ear canal, this may result in hearing loss, perforation of the eardrum, and facial nerve paralysis.

“Button batteries can pose serious health hazards, including chemical burns, and should  therefore be treated like poison and kept out of children’s view and reach,” Dizon pointed out.

To prove his point, Dizon cited the latest report from the National Poison Management and Control Center based in the University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital listing button batteries among the top 10 overall agents (ranking #7) in referred poison cases for pediatric age group.

“Like what Scarlett’s mother did, parents should promptly bring a child who has swallowed a button battery or placed one on the nostril or ear to a medical doctor so the battery is  quickly removed to avoid serious or permanent damage,” Dizon said.

To prevent incidents of button battery poisoning, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated the following safety reminders:

  1. Refrain from buying toys with loosely installed batteries, unregistered, inadequately labeled and not verified as safe by health authorities.
  2. If battery-powered toys cannot be avoided, choose one that has a battery compartment that is properly secured with a screw to prevent child’s access.
  3. Carefully read the product safety precautions and instructions.
  4. Don’t change or insert batteries in front of small children who may be enticed to do the same.
  5. Make sure that button batteries are mercury-free or has the “0% Hg Cell” mark.
  6. Keep old and new button batteries out of children’s reach as these can pose a poisoning hazard.
  7. Store spent batteries in a sealed childproof container to prevent kids from playing with them.
  8. Avoid storing or leaving batteries where these might be mistaken for, or eaten with, food.
  9. If a button battery is swallowed or placed on the ear or nostril, contact the nearest local poison control center, or call the National Poison Management and Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at +632-5241078, or seek immediate medical attention. (ECOWASTE COALITION)