I have now received the majority of the parts for my xDrip – a few bits of wire remain. Getting on to this and building it looks like it will be a relatively straightforward process. Just need to get those skills back on the soldering side.
A different question has come to mind though, in the recycling the transmitter process. Following a discussion with a friend, wherein I described what I was about to do, he raised an interesting question. Why are you planning to grind a battery into dust? On discussion his point was – “Are you sure you want to do this? The batteries contain nasty stuff. You could cause all sorts of contamination to yourself, your house, your pets, etc… Do I need to go on?”…
So let’s look into this. What precisely could be in the batteries that would make grinding them rather unpleasant. Well, the first question is Mercury. Now according to the Dexcom manual, these are Silver Oxide batteries, but there is no reference as to whether they contain Mercury. If you read through all the data relating to available watch batteries on Amazon, they reference 0% mercury content, but there is no way to tell on the Dexcom. It’s an assumption that they are Mercury free as no-one makes them that way any more, do they?
Given the ongoing Mercury reduction laws in the US, it’s unlikely that the cells used will contain mercury, however that’s not to categorically state that they don’t. Given that prolonged exposure to a very small amount is considered a risk, and that there is likely to be enough to raise a risk in cell battery, this is something to be aware of.
Secondly, assuming that we have new, mercury free batteries in the device (and it’s a medical device after all so you’d expect them to be, really), then what other hazards are there in the battery? Well, the cathode is Zinc Oxide, and the electrolyte is either Potassium or Sodium Hydroxide. I certainly wouldn’t want to be breathing in active versions of either of the latter, and Zinc also has a toxicity when inhaled in particulate form. Further info here. In fact, it can cause significant renal issues. Not something a Diabetic should really consider as a sensible route…
So this whole transmitter resuscitation… As I don’t have an evacuation chamber and dust control, I’m starting to think that the existing methods that are listed on the web for ripping the batteries out may raise some interesting risks that haven’t been adequately described in the documents. Certainly the question it raises for me is £300 or some rather unpleasant and mostly permanent health side effects?
As a result, I’m going to look at a different approach on removing the batteries and see where we get to. if it doesn’t work then I need to spend a bit of money on a transmitter. If it does? Great, and I’ll have done it in a non-destructive, much healthier way!