5+ Reasons Why Battery Acid Poses Health Risks

why is battery acid dangerous

Most of us hear battery acid, and we know to take caution. 

But why? 

Let’s look at why battery acid is dangerous and how you can avoid exposure.

Why is battery acid dangerous?

Batteries power everything in our lives, from remote control to our cellphones. But, we rarely, if ever, think about how a battery works.

Here’s the thing, batteries are perfectly safe when they’re intact. But, if the sulfuric acid and water combo inside starts to leak, it can ruin the device. 

Most importantly, battery acid can hurt you.

5 Reasons Battery Acid Is Dangerous

Battery acid is more dangerous than people think; even a little exposure is too much.

Does Damage to the Lungs

As diluted as sulfuric acid is, the fumes from batteries have traces of lead and other nasty chemicals. For most people, lung discomfort only lasts a short period.

But, long-time or repeated exposure to battery acid fumes can cause your teeth to decay, increase the odds of certain cancers, and lead to early cognitive decline.

Does Damage to the Skin

Leaking or spilled battery acid can do some serious damage to your skin. The burns can be so severe that they leave behind scars.

When you even suspect you’ve been exposed to battery acid, clean and treat the area ASAP.

  1. Use lukewarm water and start flushing and cleaning the affected area.
  2. Let the warm water gently wash over your hand for 30 minutes. (for real, set a timer)
  3. If it still burns, just keep on flushing the contaminated skin.
  4. If at all possible, don’t stop or pause the washing before the 30 minutes.

Does Damage to the Eyes

If battery acid splashes in your eyes, you’re looking at a worse care scenario. It can lead to permanent blindness and eye tissue damage.

  1. You’ll want to use lukewarm water to start flushing out your eyes.
  2. Hold your eyelids open as best you can.
  3. Let the water wash your eyeballs off for 30 minutes. (set the clock)
  4. If your eyes are still burning, repeat the process.

If available, go to an eyewash or shower station and use the solution to flush your eyes.

Does Damage to the Insides

Most people know not to ingest battery acid, but it can happen accidentally. It can cause a whole host of severe health issues.

  • breathing
  • severe pain
  • burns to the mouth
  • and throat
  • fever
  • other issues

The damage doesn’t stop in a few hours, either. Over the following days and weeks, ingesting battery acid can cause infections and permanent organ damage.

What does battery acid taste like?

Please take our word for it, and don’t try it yourself.

Some of us disobeyed our parents and played with a 9-volt battery (if you know, you know). So, we know that it has a sour, almost lemony taste. But, it’s not what the actual acid tastes like; you’re just tasting a reaction.

The dilated chemicals inside of a battery actually taste like a mixture of black coffee and borderline bad eggs. It does leave a sour aftertaste.

Don’t ever, ever drink battery acid.

Does Damage to the Environment

The improper disposal of batteries does serious damage to the Earth. Wildlife can present the same symptoms and side effects as humans. But, the caustic chemicals affects all plant life differently.

Handle with Care

You will want to isolate the leaking battery the moment you notice it and put it in a sealable plastic bag. 


If battery acid leaks into a device, you will want to approach the situation carefully and with the proper protection.

  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Closed-toe shoes
  • Long pants
  • Goggles or safety glasses
  • Gloves
  • Mask

How lethal is battery acid?

Skin, lung, and eye exposure is dangerous but mostly survivable.

Ingesting any amount of battery acid can lead to death. 



The fumes from battery acids can do damage to the lungs in both the short term and long term. 

When handling a leaking battery, you will always want to move the situation into a well-ventilated area (outdoors ideally).

Keep Kids Away

You will want to keep your child away from batteries. 

Storing them in your emergency kit is always a good spot because it’s well out of reach of children but totally accessible to you.

Contact Poison Control immediately if you suspect your child has ingested battery poison – 800-222-1222

Always Use Batteries Properly

Just a reminder to always use batteries as they are intended and per instructions. If someone tries to draw too much energy, a battery can not only leak; it can explode. Battery acid in the eye is not good.

Saving the Device Safely

When a battery leaks, it often tries to take out a device at the same time. But, you can intervene as long as you do so safely.

Neutralize the acid with milder acids like vinegar or lemon juice. You’ll notice a fizz, and once it stops, dry the area that took on battery acid.

The Right Way to Dispose of Batteries

Tossing batteries into the garbage can do damage to the environment. Think about it. We use batteries for literally everything, and most people just toss them in the trash. That builds up over time.

  • Check locally; you may have an actual battery retailer who will be more than happy to take an old one off of your hands (top battery brands are usually more reputable).
  • Local governments and companies regularly organize events where they collect old batteries and electronics to dispose of them safely.
  • Electronic, auto, and office supply stores will often take old batteries off of your hands.

What are the effects of battery acid?

  • Battery acid can burn the skin and scar.
  • It can burn the eyes and lead to blindness and tissue damage.
  • Ingesting battery acid can burn holes in the stomach and lead to a deadly infection.
  • Nose and throat irritation is common when inhaling battery acid fumes. It can last days.
  • Lung exposure can make it difficult to breathe and do damage to the lungs.

FAQs about Battery Acid

Can touching battery acid hurt you?

Touching, pouring, inhaling, and swallowing battery acid will do serious bodily injury.

When it makes contact with the skin, it burns the flesh and can lead to scarring. So, just avoid touching battery acid, and if you do, start flushing the affected area.

Is leaked battery acid dangerous?

Leaking battery acid is dangerous to you, the people around you, and the environment. 

The moment you realize it is leaking, remove it from the device and put the battery in a sealable plastic bag.

Can battery acid start a fire?

Even the smallest battery can start a fire under the right conditions and circumstances. It’s why you want to avoid using batteries incorrectly.

Heat begins to build up anytime the negative and positive posts come in contact with a metal object. The moral of the story is just to use a battery according to the instructions.

What is the lethal amount of battery acid?

A drop of battery acid is too much battery acid. It only takes 1 teaspoon of the caustic chemical to kill you.

If you suspect you or someone you know has ingested battery acid, contact poison control and find medical attention as soon as humanly possible.

What will battery acid eat through?

Battery acid can eat through fabric, carpets, and metal, so it is important to exercise caution when cleaning spills from lead-acid and NiCd batteries.

How toxic is battery corrosion?

Battery corrosion can be dangerous. It possesses caustic properties and can cause irritation or burns to the skin and eyes upon contact. If left unattended, battery corrosion can also result in additional damage to your vehicle, which will incur higher repair costs as time goes on.

Should I wash my hands after touching batteries?

It is important to wash your hands after touching batteries because handling the lead plates without proper hand hygiene may lead to exposure to lead. Symptoms of lead exposure include loss of appetite, diarrhea, constipation with cramping, difficulty sleeping, and fatigue. Additionally, batteries produce by-products such as oxygen and hydrogen gas through chemical reactions.

How toxic is a leaking battery?

A leaking battery can be harmful due to the conductive fluid it contains. If this fluid comes into contact with the skin, it can cause burns or irritation. Additionally, it is important to note that the liquid is poisonous and should never come near the mouth.

What happens if you breathe in battery acid dust?

If you breathe in battery acid dust, it may lead to severe respiratory irritation and damage to the mucous membranes. Inhaling the vapors can also cause lung edema, and prolonged exposure can be harmful. Additionally, ingestion of battery acid can cause severe irritation in the mouth, throat, esophagus, and stomach.

What is the white stuff leaking from my battery?

The white substance leaking from your battery is usually potassium hydroxide, a caustic material that can be harmful if ingested or if it touches the skin or eyes.

Can AAA battery acid hurt you?

AAA battery acid can potentially cause harm if it comes into contact with your eye, but aside from that, it is generally not dangerous. In the event of ingestion, your stomach acid will neutralize it. However, it is important to note that high concentrations of the other components in the battery, such as zinc and manganese dioxide, can be toxic. Therefore, it is advised to refrain from consuming the battery.

What to do if battery acid gets on your skin?

If battery acid gets on your skin, the appropriate treatment will vary depending on the type of acid. For alkaline battery acid, it is recommended to rinse the affected area with clear water. On the other hand, if sulfuric battery acid is involved, it is advised to use warm, soapy water for rinsing. In any case, it is important to always seek medical care or contact poison control in the event of a chemical burn.

How quickly does sulfuric acid burn skin?

Sulfuric acid burns skin rapidly, with damage becoming evident within the first minute. Complete skin lesions typically develop after approximately 4 hours. There is no observed spontaneous healing of the H2SO4 burn even after 2, 6, and 11 days.

Do chemical burns go away?

Chemical burns do not go away immediately. Even minor burns can cause significant pain and may take a few days to heal. However, more severe burns can require weeks or even months to fully heal. It is important to note that when the skin is burned, there is a risk of infection.

What does AAA battery acid look like?

AAA battery acid looks like a white, powdery substance when alkaline batteries, such as the ones commonly purchased at stores, leak. This leakage can occur gradually over time, even if the batteries are not being used, or it can be triggered by extremely high temperatures.

By Anita Brown

Anita Brown is our go-to contributor to our emergency preparedness website. Anita brings a wealth of personal experience and professional expertise to the table, having weathered several awful natural disasters. Anita is currently working towards obtaining her Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) certification.