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Lithium Battery Regulations Causing a Kerfuffle

It was January 1st, 2017 that the IATA new Dangerous Goods Regulations came into effect, changing the way some pharmaceutical companies monitor their temperature sensitive pharmaceutical shipments.

Basically, shipments with data loggers containing lithium are subject to specific IATA and Dangerous Good Regulations to ensure security of air cargo shipments. These regulations have become stricter year on year and reached a new level in 2017.

At the Leading Minds Seminar in November 2017, Paul Horner, Manager Dangerous Goods Standards, IATA spoke about the new regulations, what the risks are and the need for packaging standards for lithium batteries. They included:

    • Lithium batteries have potential for self-ignition

    • There is a risk of reaction propagation

    • Aircraft fire suppression systems may be incapable of extinguishing some battery fires

    • Lithium battery volumes carried by air are increasing due to increased consumer demand

    • Previous fire incidents where lithium batteries are involved –possible root cause?

Mr Horner explained there are six difference packing instructions in respect to lithium batteries; the main two for cold chain shipments being Lithium ion batteries contained in equipment (967) and Lithium metal batteries contained in equipment (970).

To read the specific limitations per cell, per battery, per package, please find Mr Horner’s full presentation here. Or read the Leading Minds post event report here.

Battery choices for the cold chain

The trick is to know what type of data loggers contain what type of batteries. There are data loggers that use button cell batteries, which are exempt from additional IATA labeling, so no extra forms and no extra handling costs – no matter how many boxes or pallets you ship. However if you use traditional data loggers with lithium, most often as soon as you go over three boxes using a data logger in a single consignment or you use multiple data loggers in a single box, your shipment must adhere to new IATA 2017 labeling and documentation requirements.

Watch this video that explains the differences between shipments of data loggers with traditional lithium batteries requiring special labeling; and shipments containing data logger types that are exempt from additional IATA labeling.

If you’re concerned about using lithium batteries in your cold chain shipments… please contact an ELPRO expert.

Join us at the next Leading Minds Seminar to benchmark with serious minded cold chain practitioners, on other current, business critical topics driven by regulations. Such topics include types of stability data and studies accepted by global regulators; and USP updates on risk mitigation and use of MKT for controlled cold and CRT.

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