Batteries convert chemical energy into electrical energy. Alkaline batteries use an electrolyte of potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide to produce the electrical power to run many of the items we use today. They can also use other chemicals such as mercury, manganese dioxide, zinc and black carbon, although the presence of mercury has been decreased significantly in recent years, according to Earth 911. Leaks can develop in alkaline batteries if they are damaged, which can cause several problems. It is good to know the symptoms and dangers of leakage.
Symptom: White Powder
When the alkaline battery discharges a white powder in the IC (integrated circuit) sockets, this is a symptom of a leaky battery. This white deposit is left behind by the leaking potassium hydroxide reacting with the socket contacts.
Symptoms and Warning: Fumes
When an alkaline battery emits fumes, this can be a dangerous symptom of leakage. Typically, the odour is foul and has an odd, burnt quality. The fumes are usually toxic and are from the chemicals the battery contains. An emission of odorous fumes is usually caused by burning of the batteries and is rarely the result of a leak caused by overcharging.
Dangers of Leaks
Alkaline battery leaks have some hazards. These are caused when the leaking electrolyte gets too close to the eyes or is inhaled, ingested, or touched. Irritation of the skin and eyes is common, and according to Utah.gov, severe chemical burns can result. Other related dangers of exposure to alkaline battery leaks include irritation and damage to the mucous membranes and the lungs, since chemicals can enter the respiratory system when inhaled.