30 June 2004

International outcry over proposed EU ban on hearing aid batteries

The leading international organizations for hearing impaired people are strongly objecting to European Parliament plans to ban the button cell batteries that millions of hearing aid users depend on.

The EU Commission proposed a comprehensive battery collection and recycling scheme in order to prevent environmental pollution by heavy metals from the disposal of batteries. The European Parliament, however, voted in favour of the outright banning of lead and other heavy metals in batteries. As written, the ban on lead would prohibit the only existing battery technology for hearing aids.

In a strongly worded joint statement the executive boards of the European Federation of Hard of Hearing People (EFHOH) and the worldwide International Federation of Hard of Hearing People (IFHOH) urgently requested that the members of the European Parliament take into consideration the needs of the hard of hearing people in the second reading of the new Battery Directive on 2 July.

EFHOH and IFHOH declare their willingness to do their utmost to protect our environment by supporting all efforts being made to collect and recycle used batteries.

"The Battery Directive, however, goes far beyond this and could mean that suitable hearing aid batteries would no longer be available on the market", said the joint statement.

"We strongly support the efforts being made by the battery industry to reduce the use of lead and other heavy metals in batteries as far as this is technologically possible. However, this should not lead to a reduction in the quality and efficiency of hearing aid batteries. This would be a catastrophe for the millions of consumers with hearing disabilities."

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