The Safety Institute and child injury attorney Jeffrey Killino has requested that The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) initiate an investigation of the Accutime Batman Projector watch for a potential skin irritation and chemical burn hazard.
The request emanates from an incident Killino discovered involving a severe burn to a nine-year old boy after less than three days of wearing the device. The young boy wore the watch for a full two days, before complaining to his mother on the third day that his arm hurt and asking for her help in removing it. As she removed the watch, his mother noticed a brown syrup-like substance coming from beneath it and on her son’s skin. She noted that she had to “peel the watch off of his skin.” And, when she attempted to wipe away the substance, thinking that it was “chocolate or something,” her son began screaming. She rushed her son to the nearest Urgent Care where the doctor confirmed it appeared to be a chemical burn, and treated it with an ointment.
Just last week, a Long Island, NY importer MZB recalled approximately 1.9 million Children’s “Light Up” watches due to the risk of skin irritation. According to the recall notice, the case-back of the watch can detach and expose the battery to water, posing a risk of skin irritation, redness, rashes or chemical burns. The firm had received 11 reports of skin irritations or chemical burns; six required medical treatment. The recalled watches were sold at Kmart, Kohl’s, Walmart and other retailers nationwide from October 2012 through June 2015.
The burns caused by Accutime Batman Projector Watch may have a similar defect, because the battery is exposed to the skin via an open slot on the back.
“This is a trend,” Killino said. “The writing is on the wall here, CPSC should investigate this and Accutime should recall these watches to make sure no other children are injured.”
Cheap children’s watches, and other jewelry imported from China have been linked to a host of skin injuries. In the case of watches, usually caused by an interaction with the battery. For example, in 2011 Walt Disney Parks and Resorts recalled approximately 1,200 children’s watches, after six reports of children receiving skin irritation or burning sensations while wearing the watch. The watch battery current interacting with nickel in the watch’s stainless steel back could cause skin irritation and/or burning sensations to children who are allergic to nickel.
These recently recalled watches and the Accutime Batman projector watch all have a common denominator – button cell batteries. These batteries are small coin shaped batteries – less than 20‐mm in diameter that can leak a corrosive electrolyte solution when exposed to moisture. Button batteries are found in a vast array of products from children’s toys, remote controls, watches, calculators, flashlights, musical greeting cards and much more. Over the past few years there has been a spotlight on the significant ingestion risks to children. The number of ingestion‐related injuries continues to increase. The American Academy of Pediatrics Journal estimates that there are an average of 3,289 battery‐related emergency room visits each year, based on injury data from 1990‐2009. Recently there has been an increase of recalls related to skin irritations and battery exposure such as the recent MZB recall, Disney recall and of course wearables. In particular, the popular activity-tracker, Fitbit, has racked up thousands of complaints of skin irritations and a recall supposedly related to Nickel and Nickel-related allergies, though the complaints keep coming.
A 1991 study, “Cutaenous Button Battery Injury: A New Paediatric Hazard,” explains that spontaneous leakage of alkaline electrolyte solution produces a low-voltage direct-current burn causing a tissue reaction within a few hours and pressure necrosis potentiates the problem. The leaked alkaline electrolyte solution has the ability to penetrate deeply into tissues producing a liquefying necrosis and extensive tissue damage. In addition, the possibility of battery injury without leakage is supported by a number of studies.
Potential battery accessibility and leakage is now becoming a prevalent problem leading to skin injuries ranging from rashes to severe chemical burns. Consumers should expect to wear these products without incident or injury. Please be sure to report any incidents to the CPSC at www.saferproducts.gov – and let The Safety Institute know about your experience with these and other product hazards.