Most e-cigarettes are powered by a lithium-ion battery which can pose a fire hazard if overheated from an outside heat source such as direct sunlight, a phenomenon commonly known as ‘thermal runaway’. Contact with metal objects such as coins, keys or jewelry could lead to short circuit, fire or even explosion,

...the Club explained.

The lithium-ion batteries used to power e-cigarette vaporizers are small and powerful. When they fail, the results can be disastrous.

Lithium-Ion batteries are classified as Class 9 goods (under UN numbers 3480 and 3481) in the IMDG Code due to the dual hazard properties associated with their chemical and electrical content:

  • UN 3480: Lithium-Ion Batteries
  • UN 3481: Lithium-Ion Batteries contained in equipment or packed with equipment

The Code expressly cautions that ‘electrical lithium batteries may cause fire due to an explosive rupture of the body caused by improper construction or reaction with contaminants’. Pursuant to the IMDG Code, the shipper is obliged to furnish the vessel with a completed Dangerous Good (DG) cargo declaration.

Additionally, each vessel has a Document of Compliance (DOC) for dangerous cargo which indicates where the batteries can be safely stowed on board. To ensure full compliance during a particular voyage, the classification, packaging and stowage of dangerous goods is governed by laws of the flag state, the countries of the load and discharge ports as well as the laws of any country which the vessel enters while in transit.

The Club recommends operators agreeing to carry this cargo to comply with the following additional precautions:

  • Container inspection (for sealed and unsealed packages) be carried out to ensure conformance with the instructions (P903, P908, P909, LP903 and LP904) of the IMDG Code; and
  • In the case of used and recalled batteries being shipped, to obtain confirmation in writing from the shippers that the batteries have been discharged to 0% before shipment.

It is strongly recommended to avoid carriage of e-cigarettes and/or spare e-cigarette batteries whilst on duty.

Safety tips for e-cigarette users

  • Only use the charger supplied with the e-cigarette kit - other chargers may cause problems with incompatible battery types.
  • Avoid overcharging - by ensuring that it is not left unattended while charging.
  • Avoid exposure to extreme temperatures.
  • Replace batteries if they become wet or damaged.
  • Store loose batteries in a case - keep them away from metal objects.