Dangerous Effects of Cell Phone Batteries

By Cynthia Murphy

The battery in your cell phone may not seem dangerous, but it can actually pose several hazards. Most cell phone batteries are Lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries. These small batteries contain large quantities of energy in a small package. There have been news reports linking cell phone batteries to fires, but more likely risks include overheating, burns and bacteria.

Overheating

Cell phone batteries can overheat. In some cases, overheated batteries can explode. Exploding batteries send hot fragments out of the phone. These fragments can spark a fire. In 2004, overheated batteries caused several fires. In most cases, the batteries were defective or counterfeit. The danger of overheating is greatly reduced by using a legitimate battery for your cell phone.

Burns

Cell phone batteries can also cause burns. In the case of overheated batteries, users can receive second-degree burns. A teenager received second-degree burns on his ear after his cell phone battery overheated. Other users have been burned when batteries overheated while the phone was stored in a pocket.

Bacteria

Cell phone batteries can harbor dangerous bacteria. These bacteria only survive in this particular environment. They can infect humans and even lead to death. The bacteria living in your cell phone battery don't pose a daily threat, but they can be dangerous if you have a weakened immune system. Strains of drug-resistant methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA, have been found in cell phone batteries. Most cell phones contain at least one type of bacteria. Wiping down your phone can reduce your risk of infection.

Electrical Problems

Lithium-ion batteries are fragile. Dropping your phone can lead to dangerous damage to the phone's circuitry. Putting the phone in close contact with water can also short-circuit the battery. In addition, putting the battery near metal objects such as keys or coins can disrupt the circuitry.

Preventing Danger

If you take care of your cell phone, the risks posed by the battery are minimal. Following a few simple rules will further reduce the risks. Do not drop the phone. If you do drop your phone, have it checked for damage by your provider. Avoid letting the battery come into contact with water. If the phone comes into contact with water, replace it and the battery immediately. Keep the battery away from metal objects. Use only legitimate batteries designed for your model of phone.