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A study of mercuric oxide and zinc-air battery life in hearing aids

  • Clive Sparkes (a1) and Neville K. Lacey (a2)


The requirement to phase out mercuric oxide (mercury) batteries on environmental grounds has led to the widespread introduction of zinc-air technology. The possibility arises that high drain hearing aids may not be adequately catered for by zinc-air cells, leading to poor performance. This study investigated the hearing aid user's ability to perceive differences between zinc-air and mercury cells in normal everyday usage. The data was collected for 100 experienced hearing aid users in field trials. Users report 50 per cent greater life for zinc-air cells in high power aids and 28 per cent in low power aids. The average life of the zinc-air cells range from 15 days in high power to 34 days in low power aids. Users are able to perceive a difference in sound quality in favour of zinc-air cells for low and medium power aids. The hearing aid population is not disadvantaged by phasing out mercury cells.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Mr Clive Sparkes, Audiology Unit, Glan Clwyd Hospital, Bodelwyddan, Denbighshire LL18 5UJ.


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Cretzmeyer, J. W., Espig, H. R., Melrose, R. S. (1977) Commercial zinc-air batteries. Power sources. 6: 269290.
Council Directive of 18 March 1991 on batteries and accumulators containing certain dangerous substances, EEC Battery Directive (91/157/EEC).
Department of Health Medical Devices Directorate (MDD) Procurement specification for zinc-air primary battery type CP44. Specification No. STB/EM/IOD153 Issue 2.
National Health Service supplies. Dear Colleague letter. DC55/AM/TN 15th October, 1993.
Glover, R. J. The performance of zinc-air batteries in high- power hearing aids. Technical memorandum 95/201, 1995 Department of Electrical Engineering, Brunel University Uxbridge UK.


A study of mercuric oxide and zinc-air battery life in hearing aids

  • Clive Sparkes (a1) and Neville K. Lacey (a2)


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