The answer to the question of recycling hearing aid batteries comes with caution because some hearing aid batteries still have trace amounts of mercury and pose problems for recycling centers. However several major battery manufacturers switched to mercury free zinc air batteries in the year making it possible to recycle them. Please check your battery packaging for the “mercury free” markings to be sure they are safe. If you save batteries to recycle them, be careful to keep them dry so that they do not leak. Also store your recycling collections separate from your hearing aids and other batteries to prevent damage from battery corrosion and leakage should that occur. Remember also that batteries are toxic, please keep them away from small children and animals and store in a separate room from where you eat and keep food.
To determine if you are able to recycle non-rechargeable zinc-air batteries at your local recycling center, you may follow the steps below:
1. Return the used batteries to one of the following locations where the batteries will be recycled free of charge.
• Best Buy
• The Home Depot
• Radio Shack
• Batteries Plus
2. Call 1 800 8BATTERY or visit:www.rbrc.org/consumer/index.phpto locate the Battery Recycling Center nearest you.
In my clinic I have found mercury-free batteries, though environmentally friendly, are not always consumer friendly. The instability issues inherent with mercury-free batteries make for shortened battery life and less dependable hearing aid performance. Patients struggle with errant low battery warnings, spontaneous rebooting of devices and shorter battery life overall. Those patients with hearing aid designed with water repellent or water resistant casing tend to be most susceptible to battery life issues. This stems from a lack of oxygen reaching the battery in the initial battery activation phase (when the sticker is first peeled off the air holes in the battery). This occurs to some extent with all zinc-air hearing aid batteries but seems more pronounced with mercury-free types. To help avoid “suffocation” of your batteries be sure to wait 2 minutes after peeling the sticker off a fresh battery before you place it into the device. Additionally, save battery life by opening battery doors all the way when the device is not in use. Some devices will drain batteries even if the hearing aid is off. Be sure there is no chance of battery contact in the device by opening the battery door to full swing.
Caution: Never store used batteries in locations that are potential fire danger areas. Zinc-air batteries are combustible.
Other useful links:
Habitat for Humanity battery recycling program –http://tinyurl.com/26p776r
Journal of American Pediatrics – Hazards of battery ingestionhttp://tinyurl.com/28rh7lu
This blog posted by Suzanne Yoder, Au.D. Doctor of Audiology and owner of HearWell Center. Please visit our website for more information http://www.hearwellcenter.com/