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Apple Taking Back Third-Party USB Power Adapters

From 16 August 2013 through 18 October 2013, Apple will be accepting and recycling third-party USB power adapters for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod at Apple retail stores and authorized service providers. Apple will also replace the third-party adapters, which usually cost at least $19, for $10 (or the equivalent in other countries). However, you must bring in the associated device, and Apple will replace only one adapter per device. Apple’s Web site shows examples of what official Apple adapters look like.

The trade-in program comes after a couple of distressing news reports from China. A 23-year-old Chinese woman was killed via an electric shock after answering her plugged-in iPhone 5, and separately, a 30-year-old Chinese man was put into a coma after being shocked by a charging iPhone 4. In both cases, the victims were using unauthorized power adapters.

While these stories are alarming, U.S. readers who use Apple-certified adapters that are in good condition shouldn’t panic. The power outlets into which you’d plug a USB power adapter in the United States are only 120 volts, while Chinese outlets are 220 volts. In the United States, 220-volt outlets are usually reserved for major appliances and industrial equipment. Speaking from personal experience, a 120-volt shock is distressing, but usually not lethal — although any electric shock under the right circumstances can be fatal.

Editor’s note: On the recommendation of knowledgeable readers — read the full comment thread below — we’ve struck the text above to avoid any unintended implications surrounding the dangers of electric shock.

If you own an unauthorized and potentially dangerous USB power adapter, it’s worth $10 and a trip to an Apple Store to trade it in for an Apple power adapter.

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