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Interpretation Response #23-0001

Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Petra Industries, LLC

Individual Name: Mr. Tyler Scott

Location State: OK Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

May 9, 2023

Mr. Tyler Scott
Product Information Management Supervisor
Petra Industries, LLC
2101 S. Kelly Ave
Edmond, OK  73013

Reference No. 23-0001

Dear Mr. Scott:

This letter is in response to your January 4, 2023, email requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to products containing lithium ion batteries. In your email, you state that your company is attempting to establish a clearer distinction between "UN3480, Lithium ion batteries" and "UN3481, Lithium ion batteries contained in equipment" to avoid conflicts between your customers and manufacturers, as you are aware that many consumer electronic devices now include power bank functionality as an additional feature. You cite a previously-issued Letter of Interpretation No. 16-01251 —dated May 31, 2017—which clarifies that a power bank with additional electronic accessories should be described as "UN3480, Lithium ion batteries" if used to supply electric power to separate equipment. Finally, you provide a list of lithium battery powered products that can also charge external devices. You ask which devices should be described as "UN3480, Lithium ion batteries" or "UN3481, Lithium ion batteries contained in equipment."

In accordance with § 173.22 of the HMR, it is the shipper's responsibility to properly classify and describe a hazardous material. This Office does not perform that function. To determine whether an individual device should be described as "UN3480, Lithium ion batteries" or "UN3481, Lithium ion batteries contained in equipment," one should consider the primary purpose of the device. For instance, if a device primarily functions as a standalone power source for another device it would likely be described as "UN3480, Lithium ion batteries." In contrast, if a device functions primarily for a purpose other than as a power source for another device it would likely be described as "UN3481, Lithium ion batteries contained in equipment."

In consideration of the information you provided in your email, it is the opinion of this Office that most of the devices as described in your letter are "UN3481, Lithium ion batteries contained in equipment." However, the earbuds with an integrated USB-C phone charger should be considered "UN3481, Lithium ion batteries packed with equipment" (see LOI 19-0134 and 20-0078 ). This would also apply to any of the devices in your list where the battery is designed to provide electrical power to another device.

I hope this information is helpful. Please contact us if we can be of further assistance.

Sincerely,

T. Glenn Foster
Chief, Regulatory Review and Reinvention Branch
Standards and Rulemaking Division

173.22


1 https://www.phmsa.dot.gov/regulations/title49/interp/16-0125

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.22 Shipper's responsibility