Dell will recall 4.1 million laptop computer batteries because of a potential fire hazard, the company announced yesterday.

The lithium-ion batteries being recalled are installed in 4.1 million laptops sold between April 2004 and 18 July of this year. According to Dell, the laptops with which the batteries were sold were the Latitude D410, D500, D505, D510, D520, D600, D610, D620, D800 and D810; the Inspiron 6000, 8500, 8600, 9100, 9200, 9300, 500m, 510m, 600m, 6400, E1505, 700m, 710m, 9400 and E1705; the Precision M20, M60, M70 and M90 mobile workstations; and the XPSTM , XPS Gen2, XPS M170 and XPS M1710.

A representative of Dell did not return a call seeking details on the recall.

The US CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission), which investigated the fire hazard, says this will be the largest recall in the history of the consumer electronics industry, according to news reports.

According to the CPSC website, lithium-ion batteries have been cited in recalls of other laptop models, including computers from HP and Apple.

Dell made voluntary recalls of 22,000 laptop batteries in December 2005, 284,000 in 2001 and 27,000 in 2000, according to the CPSC.

In those instances, Dell and the CPSC urged consumers to stop using the laptops' batteries until they received a replacement. Lithium-ion batteries are used in mobile phones, camcorders, digital cameras and other consumer electronics products.

Dell reported six instances in which laptops overheated and caused fires since last December, although no one was injured in any of the incidents, according to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Dell said the overheating was caused by a manufacturing defect in the batteries made for it by Sony, the papers reported.

The CPSC recall warning can be read here.