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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – But Be Safe, PRBA Reminds Holiday Flyers Traveling with Lithium Batteries

Washington (December 17, 2019) – PRBA-The Rechargeable Battery Association today released its 2019 holiday safety message for airline passengers traveling with either lithium batteries or battery-powered devices, including cameras, chargers, laptops, mobile phones, toys, video games, e-cigarettes and vaporizers.

“With all the bustle and excitement of the holidays, it’s sometimes easy for airline passengers to overlook Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules for lithium batteries and battery-powered devices and gifts placed in checked luggage and carry-ons,” PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner said.

U.S. airlines are predicted to fly 47.5 million passengers over the 2019 holiday season, which starts December 18 and ends January 5, an increase of three percent from 2018.
Here are some simple FAA rules for air travelers.

  • Spare lithium batteries are strictly prohibited in checked luggage but are permitted in carry-ons.
  • The FAA recommends but does not require that battery-powered devices be placed in carry-on luggage whenever possible. If carried in checked baggage, the devices must be turned completely off, protected from accidental activation, and packed so they are protected from damage.
  • Battery-powered E-cigarettes, vaporizers and vape pens are prohibited in checked luggage but are permitted in carry-ons.

The FAA website provides detailed, user-friendly information for airline passengers traveling with batteries.

Time to Crack Down on Hidden Lithium ion Battery Shipments, says Air Cargo

(Loadstar.com) – December 12, 2019
Alex Lennane

Governments must begin issuing fines and penalties for manufacturers that make counterfeit batteries or mis-label lithium battery shipments.

In yet another rare example of the air cargo industry working together, IATA, FIATA, Tiaca and the Global Shippers’ Forum have urged governments to step up and enforce regulations. The aim is to prevent the transport of mis-labelled, non-compliant and potentially dangerous lithium ion batteries.

IATA claims consumer demand for lithium batteries is growing by 17% annually – which has led to “an increase in the number of incidents in which rogue shippers are not complying”, said Nick Careen, IATA’s senior vice president for cargo and security. “The industry is uniting to raise awareness of the need to comply. This includes the launching of an incident reporting tool so that information on rogue shippers is shared. And we are asking governments to get much tougher with fines and penalties.”

The incident reporting tool is an information-sharing platform which will target instances of mis-declared consignments. The system works in real time and allows participants to report any “acts of deliberate or intentional concealment and misdeclaration”.

The partners are also launching a campaign on the dangers of undeclared or mis-reported shipments, via a series of seminars globally, but targeting countries which have a particular problem. They are also starting an education and awareness programme for customs authorities in collaboration with the World Customs Organisation.

A third aspect of the campaign is supporting a “joined-up” approach. The UK, New Zealand, France and the Netherlands have an initiative to adopt a “cross-domain approach to include aviation security, manufacturing standards, customs and consumer protection agencies”.

While air cargo is scanned for items that pose a risk to security, like explosives, there is no similar measure for safety: screening for lithium batteries. But in the US there could be moves to change this. Executive director of the US Airforwarders’ Association Brandon Fried said in October: “We think canines can be trained to spot unidentified lithium ion batteries.” He added that there was little else the industry could do, particularly in the US, which was mainly an importer. “I am still concerned that governments are not stepping up to the lithium battery threat. They put the responsibility on forwarders and airlines, but what are governments doing to ensure standards are not a danger to the public?

“Many of the [culprit] companies are outside the US – so here it’s about awareness. But it’s a concern,” said Mr Fried.

The partnering associations have also called on governments to enforce rules more strictly.

“Safety is aviation’s top priority,” said Glyn Hughes, IATA’s global head of cargo. “Airlines, shippers and manufacturers have worked hard to establish rules that ensure lithium batteries can be carried safely. But the rules are only effective if they are enforced and backed-up by significant penalties. “Government authorities must step up and take responsibility for stopping rogue producers and exporters. Abuses of dangerous goods shipping regulations, which place aircraft and passenger safety at risk, must be criminalised.”

James Hookham, GSF secretary general, added: “Responsible shippers rely on government enforcement of standards to protect their investment in training and safe operating procedures. Air freight remains a vital link in international supply chains and it is essential that the rules for ensuring the safe movement of all cargoes are understood and acted on by all parties involved.”

U.S. EPA Issues Draft TSCA Risk Evaluation for N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP); “Unreasonable Risk” Determination Poses Significant Implications for Lithium ion Battery Manufacturers

The U.S. EPA recently published its draft TSCA Risk Evaluation (draft RE) for N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) (CAS RN 872-50-4). NMP is a substance used in the manufacture of lithium ion batteries. The draft RE identifies industrial and commercial uses that EPA has deemed to present an unreasonable risk to the health of workers or consumers. Unreasonable risk is the trigger for TSCA regulation. Of particular interest to the lithium ion battery industry, EPA made an unreasonable risk determination for industrial and commercial use of NMP “[a]s a solvent (for cleaning or degreasing) use in electrical equipment, appliance and component manufacturing and for other uses in manufacturing lithium ion batteries.” Because NMP is used in the manufacturing of lithium ion batteries, manufacturers of lithium ion batteries will be considered “processors” under TSCA.

While an unreasonable risk determination does not necessarily mean that EPA will automatically ban NMP for lithium ion battery manufacturing, the Agency has taken such an approach on chemicals previously determined to present unreasonable risks. Instead, EPA could require certain types of control measures to mitigate risks associated with the manufacture of lithium ion batteries. Risk management measures may include requirements to use personal protective equipment (PPE) or other requirements EPA considers appropriate to lower exposure to susceptible populations. Once NMP’s RE is finalized, the risk management process will begin and can be expected to take two to three years to complete.

EPA is accepting comments on the draft RE through Monday, January 6, 2020. Additionally, EPA’s Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) is hosting an in-person meeting on December 5-6, 2019 to review the draft RE.

More information on the upcoming meetings can be found here.

Contact PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner for questions on PRBA’s planned comments on this EPA proposal.