Many of you who wear hearing aids have a sort of love/hate relationship with them. You may love how much better you can hear with them, but also hate the limitations that prevent better hearing and also some of the hassles that accompany their use. One aspect of hearing aids that you probably just take for granted is their batteries. They pretty much just work. But the guys who make them aren’t satisfied; they continue to work to make hearing aid batteries more powerful, longer-lasting, and easier to use.
- March 2006 – Button batteries pose serious injury risks
- March 2006 – Manufacturers vow to eliminate mercury from button batteries
- March 2007 – SoundBytes to Offer Rechargeable Hearing Aid Batteries
- April 2007 – Rayovac Announces Battery for Hearing Aids with Wireless
- October 2009 – Swiss Companies to Develop Rechargeable Zinc-air Battery Technology
- April 2010 – Hansaton AQ Introduces Rechargeable Battery Technology
- May 2010 – Button Batteries Pose Serious Danger for Children, Elderly
- July 2010 – Mercury-free hearing aid batteries have some problems
- July 2010 – Information on the new no-mercury-added batteries
- October 2010 – Progress on Rechargeable Hearing Aid Batteries
- March 2011 – Renata Has New Line of Mercury-Free Button Cells
- May 2011 – Deadline Soon for Mercury-Free HA/CI Batteries in Some States
- January 2012 – Bringing Rechargeable Hearing Aids into the Mainstream Market
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Button Batteries Pose Serious Danger for Children, Elderly
There has been an increase in the use of “button” style lithium cell batteries in recent years, which are used in many household productions including remote controls, flashlights, watches, hearing aids, cameras, children’s toys and books, and musical greeting cards. There has also been a significant increase in the number of battery ingestion’s, particularly among children. New research published in the June issue of the journal Pediatrics has found that between 1985 and 2009, there has been a 6.7-fold increase in the percentage of battery ingestion’s, including 13 deaths involving button batteries that become lodged in the esophagus. Certain battery types, especially the 20-millimetre lithium cell battery, can also cause serious injury if not promptly removed, such as tissue tears, burning, and internal bleeding, because they continue to generate an external current, even when weakened.
Information on the new no-mercury-added batteries
In late 2009, I learned that I belonged to a group of hearing healthcare professionals who had absolutely no idea that zinc-air batteries had approximately 10% mercury in them. I have been working in our industry since 1980, when battery packages read “mercury batteries.” When zinc-air batteries became available, I mistakenly assumed they contained no mercury. But, since discovering my ignorance in this matter, I have begun to see advertisements in our professional journals for “mercury-free batteries.” That inspired me to take an online continuing education course from one of the battery manufacturers. I also made phone calls to hearing aid companies and battery manufacturers. Now, with the goal of sharing some of my experiences with my colleagues so as to assist them in the transition to these batteries, I have prepared the following summary of what I’ve been doing with my patients in terms of battery education.
Progress on Rechargeable Hearing Aid Batteries
Hearing aid-wearers, arguably more than any other users of technology, know just how important batteries are. That’s why they’ll be very interested to learn that a small company based in Switzerland hopes to prolong the life of these batteries so that they can be recharged overnight and provide power for the best part of a year. ReVolt Technologies believes it has cracked an old problem in battery technology and managed to find a formula for creating rechargeable zinc-air batteries. The secret lies in the combination of materials used. Still in research and development, ReVolt hopes to go into commercial production of small batteries suitable for hearing aids in 2012 and to branch out soon afterwards into larger batteries, which could be used for a range of applications including laptops, power tools and electric vehicles.
Renata Has New Line of Mercury-Free Button Cells
Renata Batteries has developed a new line of 0% mercury silver oxide button cell batteries for hearing aids and other consumer devices. Three states enacted laws banning mercury in button cell batteries, effective July 1, 2011. In March of 2006, NEMA, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association of the US electrical manufacturing industry, announced its commitment to eliminate added mercury from button cell batteries by June 30, 2011.
Deadline Soon for Mercury-Free HA/CI Batteries in Some States
This year on June 30, a quieter but still important revolution will take place: the ban against hearing aid batteries that contain mercury as an intended component will take effect in a number of states. Enforcement spells the eventual extinction of mercury-containing batteries-at least in the United States-but it also comes with fair warning. Following passage of the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act in 1996, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) advocated on behalf of the industry to gain more time and negotiated a June 30, 2011, deadline for state bans to take effect.
Bringing Rechargeable Hearing Aids into the Mainstream Market
Sales of rechargeable consumer electronic devices have blossomed in recent years. Surprisingly, however, in their roughly 30-year history, rechargeable hearing instruments have yet to become the chosen alternative for most hearing aid wearers. The operating time per charge (OTPC) has simply not been sufficient to get most hearing aid wearers through the day, and other design and durability issues have prevented widespread acceptance. Battery life, cost, and ease of use are important concerns for hearing aid wearers. If designs can be developed that meet the needs of consumers, rechargeable hearing instruments may become the solution to their concerns. This article introduces two new hearing systems from Hansaton Acoustics that promise to bring rechargeable hearing instruments out of the niche market and into the mainstream.