AED pads expire after two to four years (depending on the model), but do you know what to do with expired AED pads after you’ve replaced them with new ones? And what about AED batteries and old AEDs?
As items with electronic components, you can’t simply throw your old AED pads or AED batteries in the regular trash, and most retailers won’t take them back. So, how do you dispose of these items once they’re no longer needed?
Take Expired AED Pads to an Accredited Electronics Recycling Facility
All AED pads have electrodes that are used to deliver a shock in the case of sudden cardiac arrest. Many newer “smart” AED pads also have printed circuit boards on the electrodes that are used to assess the rate and depth of chest compressions and provide feedback to the rescuer.
Because all AED pads have electronic components, they are considered electronic waste and should be either:
- Taken to an accredited electronics recycling facility, or
- Disposed of through an electronic waste recycling program
Additionally, defibrillator pads that have been contaminated with blood may need to be treated as infectious waste. If this situation applies to you, consult an infectious waste management company for advice.
Don’t Leave Expired AED Pads Lying Around
To prevent expired AED pads from being used as a backup in the event of an extended emergency or to treat multiple SCA victims, it’s best to take them to your local recycling center as soon as they’ve been replaced. The conductive gel on AED pads dries up over time, and the pads won’t effectively deliver a shock.
Recycle Expired AED Batteries through a Battery Recycling Program
The lithium batteries that are used in AEDs are considered hazardous waste by the Environmental Protection Agency because they contain heavy metals and corrosive material that can cause damage to people, animals, and the environment if the batteries leak. Old batteries can also cause a fire or explode if they are heated or subjected to pressure.
As soon as you’ve replaced your AED batteries, recycle them through a battery recycling program or call a hazardous waste provider to pick them up from your facility. AED batteries typically last from two to five years once they’re installed. Expired batteries don’t hold as much charge as new batteries. In fact, battery problems are one of the top causes of defibrillator failures in the United States, so it’s essential to make sure your batteries are always up-to-date.
Send Your Used Automated External Defibrillator Back to the Retailer for Refurbishment
AED units have a longer service life than the pads and batteries, which is why models like the Philips HeartStart OnSite AED and the Physio-Control Lifepak CR2 come with an eight-year warranty. If you upgrade to a newer model, change brands, or use your AED device in a rescue, your device can often be refurbished and used again.
- If upgrading or changing brands, you can often send your current AEDs back to the retailer for refurbishment and resale.
- After a rescue, you might be able to send your AED back to the retailer to have the event records removed from the device and new AED pads and batteries installed.
- At the end of its service life, take the AED unit to an electronic waste recycling facility and notify your retailer (or the manufacturer) that the AED has been removed from service. Because it has electronic parts and batteries, an AED device should never be thrown in the regular trash.
Check Your Local Regulations
Before disposing of any part of your AED, find out what your local regulations are and which recycling programs and facilities accept electronic waste in your area. Be sure that you also replace any expired parts before the expiration date. AED program management can help you keep track of expiration dates if you have multiple AEDs in multiple locations.
Good for the Planet, Good for You
Keeping your AED up-to-date is a requirement in many states and, for a patient, it can mean the difference between life and death. When deployed within three to five minutes of collapse from SCA, an AED with working pads and batteries—along with high-quality chest compressions—can raise a patient’s chances of survival to over 70% up from close to nil.
When you replace your AED pads and batteries, take advantage of your local recycling options to protect people’s health and the environment and to ensure that the electronic components can be used again. And if you’re ever in doubt about the best way to recycle the components of a specific AED model, check the user manual or ask the manufacturer.