Alleviating Exposure of Lead-Acid Batteries, as Minister of the Environment

May 21, 2019

 

Since lead is persistent and highly immobile in the environment(3) (meaning sites where recycling activity has taken place will continue to pose an exposure risk to local populations), if I were to pursue to the job of Minister of the Environment, I would focus my attention on methods of alleviating exposure of lead-acid batteries. Lead-acid batteries are the batteries commonly used in our cars, trucks, and recreational vehicles.(1) If you have a dead battery, it is illegal to dispose of the battery in your trash.(1) With use, these batteries run down and eventually die.(1) Lead can be recycled indefinitely, although there are some losses at each stage, the amount depending on the efficiency of the recycling process.(3) If not properly handled, they can leak contaminants into soil and water.(1) I would enforce a national, and promote an international, policy in regards to the management of used lead-acid batteries that embraces environmentally-conscious standards of collecting, mining and recycling lead. Lead mining uses large amounts of energy and environmental resources, particularly water.(3) It causes significant environmental degradation and loss of habitat.(3) These standards would incorporate laws concerning the size and location of smelters and their distance from residential areas, stricter environmental standards with lower bar of tolerance for emissions, and strengthening occupational standards for workplace.(3)

 

“Fugitive emissions from the various stages of the recycling process can be reduced by the use of negative pressure enclosures, i.e. a sealed area where adequate ventilation is in place to through an emission control device and/or a high‐efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to trap particles and dust.(2) The use of hooding and exhaust ventilation over open areas of operation, e.g. battery saws and crushers, furnace feed conveyors and furnace charging points, will trap dusts and fumes.”(2) “Recycling lead-acid batteries must be carried out with care to minimize environmental contamination and protect the health of workers and communities.”(3) I would require/provide trained inspectors, wearing protective equipment, working in laboratory facilities to measure the amount of lead in biological and environmental samples every 3 months (4 times a year) in residential and commercial areas, along with recycling facilities.

 

Since keeping molten lead at lower temperatures will reduce the amount of fumes emitted(2), I would enforce a policy that mandates facilities that recycle lead and lead-acid batteries, to function under low temperatures.I would mandate annual classes, that to informs and educate urban, rural, and suburban renters and home owners (of all communities) on how to recognize possible lead poisoning and to initiate the necessary diagnostic and treatment interventions. Renters would have to take these classes every time they renew their lease and homeowners would have to take these classes every 12-18 months.

 

Resources:

 

Frequently Asked Questions for Lead-Acid Battery Recycling. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/86198.htmlLead-Acid Battery Law. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/86031.htmlDavison, A. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.altenergy.org/renewables/lead-acid_batteries.html

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