All About Lithium-ion Battery Safety Data Sheets (or MSDS)

Today, most portable electronic devices (PEDs) that run on batteries have Lithium-ion batteries on them. Like your smartphone, smartwatch, wireless earphones, bluetooth speakers, and others. But do you know that these products are considered hazardous?

Don’t get it wrong; actually, the batteries used in all these products are considered hazardous, i.e., lithium-ion batteries, and require a certification on their containers for shipment and other purposes. Today, we will explain the hazards of lithium-ion batteries, why it requires an MSDS certificate, and where you need them.

But first thing first, let’s start with a basic understanding of MSDS.

What is an MSDS Certificate?

MSDS, formerly called SDS, is an internal and scientific document that can be prepared internally or by any third party. Its purpose is to specify the hazards and safety measures associated with the chemical or the product. 

To ensure a globally accepted format and easy cross-border trades, the GHS (Globally Harmonized System) proposed a 16-Section format for SDS (or MSDS), which remains valid in all transport modes in the world. It provides comprehensive information about a substance or mixture for workplace chemical management.

Note: There is one more misunderstanding among the public that MSDSs are only required for hazardous products, but in reality, every product which is being shipped requires a form of declaration regarding the hazard of their product even if they are not considered hazardous.

Why does the Lithium battery need an MSDS certificate?

A lithium-ion battery or Li-ion battery is a type of rechargeable battery composed of cells in which lithium ions move from the negative electrode through an electrolyte to the positive electrode during discharge and back when charging. 

Due to their high energy-to-weight ratio, lithium batteries have become the preferred energy source for many products, from smartphones and computers to vehicles.  But it is classified as a dangerous good which many people are unaware of. 

There are 9 classes of dangerous goods (DG), each consisting of unique characteristics and features. Lithium batteries come under Category 9 as they are electrically and thermally unstable if exposed to uncontrolled environmental conditions or are mishandled during transportation.  

Battery hazards include electrolyte leakage, heat production, venting of gases, fire, and explosions. 

Lithium cell/battery is also considered hazardous as if one battery/cell ignites and catches fires, it can possibly propagate to other nearby batteries causing overheating, fire or explosions.  These fires produce toxic fumes and are often difficult to put out with normal fire extinguishers. In addition, when not handled properly, these batteries can even explode and burst, causing greater damage to the surrounding area. 

But one thing to get it clear, the batteries in its current condition i.e. packed and within the device don’t necessarily pose a threat. So relax, the battery in your phone, earphones, speakers, laptop is not going to burst (if you use it for the purpose it is made).

When would you require an MSDS sheet for a li-ion battery?

The most common requirement of an MSDS for lithium ion battery is to ship the product via air transport. But this is not the only requirement; in reality, it is being asked at other places as well. For example, the following are some of the most frequent places where you may be asked for an MSDS Certificate for battery (li-ion battery): 

  1. When you import/export the product through airways in a domestic country.
  2. When you ship your product to a different country via air, land, or water.
  3. When you use an e-commerce warehouse for your products.
  4. When retailers receive the consignment from manufacturers.
  5. When you have a manufacturing setup or factory.

Products and articles that also require MSDS certification of lithium battery

MSDS for lithium batteries is not only required for individual lithium-ion batteries but also on equipment that contains lithium-ion batteries. Lithium batteries fall into two broad classifications; lithium metal batteries and lithium-ion batteries. 

  1. Lithium metal batteries are generally non-rechargeable and contain metallic lithium. 
  2. Lithium-ion batteries contain lithium which is only present in an ionic form in the electrolyte and is rechargeable. 

Within these two broad classifications, there are many different chemistries. For example, within lithium-ion batteries, there are lithium polymers, lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4), lithium-air, to name a few. The UN (United Nations) Has assigned different transport numbers for them as well, like 

UN NumberProper Shipping Name
UN 3090Li-metal batteries (including lithium alloy batteries). 
UN 3091Li-metal batteries contained in equipment 1 (including lithium alloy batteries)
UN 3091Li-metal batteries packed with equipment (including lithium alloy batteries). 
UN 3080Li-ion batteries (including Li-ion polymer batteries).
UN 3081Li-ion batteries contained in equipment 1 (including Li-ion polymer batteries)
UN 3081Li-ion batteries packed with equipment (including Li-ion polymer batteries).

Based on the classification, many products require an MSDS sheet with them that you are not aware of. Let’s have a look at some of them:

  1. MSDS for Bluetooth Neckbands & Truly Wireless Earphones
  2. MSDS for Bluetooth Speakers
  3. MSDS for Smartphones and Tablets
  4. MSDS for Smartwatch
  5. MSDS for DSLR Camera
  6. MSDS for Laptops
  7. MSDS for Calculators and others

Note: UN number (United Nations number) is a four-digit number that identifies hazardous materials and articles (such as explosives, flammable liquids, oxidizers, toxic liquids, etc.) in the framework of international transport.

What information does an MSDS of Battery Contain?

MSDS for Lithium-ion batteries comprises a 16 Section long format. Those sections are namely 

Section 1: Product and Company Identification – Product Identifier, Supplier Details, and Product’s Use

Section 2: Hazard Identification: Classification, Hazard Statement, Precaution

Section 3: Composition Information: Chemical Characterization and Composition breakdown

Section 4: First Aid Measures: Suitable first aid measures after inhalation, skin or eye contact, and ingestion (swallowing) 

Section 5: Fire Fighting Measures: Suitable and unsuitable fire extinguishing media, protective equipments and additional precaution measures

Section 6: Accidental Release Measures: Personal precaution, environmental precaution, and methods for containment and cleanup

Section 7: Handling and Storage: Precaution for safe handling and storage

Section 8: Exposure Controls & Personal Protection: Exposure limits, and appropriate engineering controls as well as individual protective equipment.

Section 9: Physical & Chemical Properties: Physical properties like rating, Wh (Watt hour), voltage, ampere, weight, and chemical properties like state, appearance, PH

Section 10: Stability & Reactivity: Reactivity, chemical stability, possible hazardous products, and conditions to avoid.

Section 11: Toxicological Information: Acute toxicity, skin corrosion/irritation, carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, and others.

Section 12: Ecological Information: Eco-toxicity, bioaccumulative potential, mobility in soil.

Section 13: Disposal Consideration: Waste treatment methods

Section 14: Transport Information: UN Number, Shipping Name, Class, Packaging group and instructions.

Section 15: Additional Regulatory Information: Additional regulations of different countries like EU, US, Japan, Canada, Australia, China, and others

Section 16: Other Information: Generally used for declaring validity of the certificate, and other related information.

How can I get MSDS for li-ion batteries?

As we already said, MSDS can be prepared by manufacturers themselves or any third party. However, we are not sure if your supplier or manufacturer provided one with their product, but you can always rely on Professional Utilities for your product’s MSDS (or SDS) Certificate. Then, all you have to do is follow a simple three-step process and have the Material Safety Data Sheet for batteries with you.

Step 1: Fill out our form or give us a Call on 9716711090

Step 2: Provide us with all the necessary Details & Documents

Step 3: Get your MSDS Certificate within 3 – 5 working days.