Professional Jeweler Archive: AWA Fights Mercury Battery Laws

April 2005

Merchandise | Timepieces

AWA Fights Mercury Battery Laws

It also publishes a watch battery safety list

During 2004, the American Watch Association won an exemption for its members to a mercury labeling law in Connecticut that would have forced watchmakers to place warnings on packaging and instruction manuals saying silver oxide batteries contain mercury. It also worked to stop California from banning mercury batteries and helped convince New York to exclude button cells from its antimercury law. This year AWA is working to thwart efforts to outlaw mercury batteries or require product labeling in Michigan and Maine. It also has produced guidelines on safe battery handling for retailers and their customers.

Guidelines for Safety

When used correctly, batteries provide a safe and dependable source of power for watches, says AWA. But when misused or abused, leakage or, in extreme cases, explosions and fire can occur. Here are handling guidelines:

Consumers should always use a watch professional to change a battery. They shouldn’t try to open the watch because they might mar the case or damage the water-tight gasket or the movement, which could void the warranty.

Repairers should check the watch contacts and battery for cleanliness and clean the terminals with a lint-free cloth.

Always insert batteries correctly, matching the polarity (+ and -) marked on the battery and watch.

Remove spent or dead batteries immediately to avoid leakage that will damage the watch.

Dispose all batteries properly to protect the environment.

A professional should dispose of spent batteries, preferably to a battery recycling program or other appropriate waste collection facility.

Don’t heat batteries or throw used batteries in the fireplace or incinerator. This can result in leaks or explosions.

Do not mix unpacked batteries. When unpacked batteries are mixed together, they can easily short-circuit each other, particularly button-type batteries. In some cases, this can be dangerous because batteries can heat up and cause an explosion.

Do not give children access to batteries. Keep all batteries out of their reach, especially small ones that could be swallowed. In case a cell or battery has been swallowed, seek medical assistance promptly.

For information, visit

Copyright © 2005 by Bond Communications