Gadget Batteries Get New Scrutiny

Stricter international safety rules will kick in next year to tackle hazards from shipments of lithium batteries aboard planes, but pilot groups and power-cell makers are battling over whether there should be even tougher measures.

Each year, more than one billion rechargeable batteries — used in mobile phones, laptops, electric cars and other products — are produced globally, with a total value exceeding $9 billion, according to several industry estimates. The ubiquitous batteries normally are safe, but damaged or overheated cells can spontaneously ignite and create fierce fires — especially when thousands are jammed in cargo planes.

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