Cell Phone Safety: A China Perspective
Guangzhou January 2009, a man in his 20s died when blood vessels in his neck burst when his mobile phone lithium battery exploded in his shirt pocket.
Hunan March 2009, an 8-year old girl's hand was amputated due to an arm injury caused by a poor-grade mobile phone lithium battery explosion.
Our Analysis: WHY?
China has arguably the largest and fastest growing population of mobile phone users with its 1.3 billion people. Well-known as a manufacturing powerhouse with its low labor costs and fast emerging as the world's largest exporter, it produces goods at an overwhelming rate to cater to both domestic and external needs. However, many of such items do not undergo stringent quality tests and may thus cause health and safety hazards. A common occurrence will be counterfeit mobile devices including cellphones, music players, etc. and most notably, their accessories. This has led to many accidents mainly attributed to the poor quality of such gadgets and components.
In addition, peculiar to China is the emergence of the imitation IT industry in recent years, a phenomenon termed by the Chinese as shan-zhai culture (山寨文化). This is characterized by the mimicking of the features of contemporary popular mobile devices at great speed to market and at comparatively lower costs. Increasingly, the unconventional assembly has even led to many Chinese appreciating it as innovation at the grassroots level, and many of these products are even gradually becoming mainstream brands. However, there is still a significant proportion of people who associate shan-zhai merchandise with generaly negative connotations such as "cheap", "unreliable", "easily spoilt", "poor quality".
The most notable potential health and safetly hazards of low quality counterfeit mobile devices will be the increased radiation (measured to be at least four to six times the recommended level) as well as accidents caused by accessories.
- Always purchase and use approved accessories such as batteries and chargers.
- Always ensure that purchased products carry the original factory seal or identification certificate, warranty forms, quality certified documents.
- Always request for proof of purchase and distributor's authorized stamp for future claims verification.
- For mobile phones, check that the IMEI numbers on the packaging and mobile phones match.
1. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard and Mark Kleinman's article on China beats Germany to take world trade crown. (1st April 2009)
2. Richard McCormack's article that China has replaced U.S. as world's largest exporter.(1st April 2009)
3. Qing Dao News[青岛新闻网] (in Chinese) on a mobile phone battery explosion which caused a girl's hand to be amputated.(1st April 2009)
4. Xin-Hwa News[新华网] (in Chinese) featuring an article: "Mobile phone battery explosion causes Man's death.(1st April 2009)
5. Reporters Chen Wen and Li Dong Hwa[陈文，李东华](in Chinese) share their views on health hazards of shan-zhai mobile phones.(1st April 2009)
6. Xin-Hwa News[新华网](in Chinese): "Reading shan-zhai culture: Is it good or bad? (1st April 2009)
7. livepine for the image. (1st April 2009)