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Global Poisoning by Recycling Lead-Acid Batteries

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All across the globe workers collect spent lead-acid batteries, break them down, smelt the lead, and resell the ingots to other manufacturing and production facilities. In the developing world, workers and their families perform the work. Their exposure to lead, arsenic, and other heavy metals can be very high. If children are involved in the process, blood leads can reach dangerous levels. There are many companies in the US, Canada, and Mexico doing the same work. The occupational health exposures are more controlled but the risk is relative high. Only a few companies have implemented the necessary hierarchy of controls to control worker exposure. Finally, the process is also a public health and an environmental health issue for workers in developing countries and company not using air emission controls to reduce the spread of lead in the air.

Published in: Environment
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Global Poisoning by Recycling Lead-Acid Batteries

  1. 1. Global Poisoning by Recycling Lead-Acid Batteries PRESENTED BY: BERNARD L. FONTAINE, JR., CIH, CSP, FAIHA THE WINDSOR CONSULTING GROUP, INC. (Thinkstock Photos/Getty Images)
  2. 2. Global Poisoning from Battery Recycling Some sites that have been noted as examples of the problem  Thiaroye Sur Mer, Dakar, Senegal  Bajos de Haina, Dominican Republic  Picnic Garden, Kolkata, India Estimated Population at Risk: 1 Million
  3. 3. Global Poisoning from Battery Recycling Phase I – The collection process
  4. 4. Global Poisoning from Battery Recycling Phase II - An open furnace is used to melt batteries in Kolkata, India
  5. 5. Global Poisoning from Battery Recycling Empty car battery casings. India. Photo by Blacksmith Institute.
  6. 6. Global Poisoning from Battery Recycling
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  10. 10. Global Poisoning from Battery Recycling These children are developmentally impaired as a result of lead poisoning. Haina, Dominican Republic. Photo by Blacksmith Institute.
  11. 11. Global Poisoning from Battery Recycling A worker sorts through used lead acid batteries in Kenya. Photo by Blacksmith Institute
  12. 12. Global Poisoning from Battery Recycling
  13. 13. Global Poisoning from Battery Recycling Disassembling used lead-acid batteries in Vietnam
  14. 14. Global Poisoning from Battery Recycling Mexico should establish a more robust regulatory framework that covers the entire industry and provides public health and environmental protections equivalent to those in the United States.
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  19. 19. Global Poisoning from Battery Recycling Hazardous battery recycling on the streets of New Delhi. A child disassembles a spent truck battery on sidewalk to sell lead to unregistered recycling units. Photo courtesy of OK International
  20. 20. Global Poisoning from Battery Recycling Occupational health and safety controls to reduce exposure in battery plants in Mexico
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  24. 24. Global Poisoning from Battery Recycling Mass Lead Poisoning in Dakar Senegal Battery Recycling Exacts a Heavy Toll In a neighborhood of Dakar, Senegal, 18 children died from an aggressive central nervous system disease between November 2007 and March 2008. Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and local health authorities were called in to investigate the deaths, but cultural prohibitions preempted autopsies of the children. So the researchers examined 32 of the children’s siblings and 23 of the siblings’ mothers along with 18 unrelated local children and 8 unrelated adults. They concluded that the cause of death likely was encephalopathy resulting from severe lead poisoning [EHP 117:1535–1540; Haefliger et al.].
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  26. 26. Global Poisoning from Battery Recycling Battery manufacturing plant's young neighbors exposed to hazardous lead debris dumped out their back door. (Bhubaneswar, India). Photo courtesy of OK International
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  28. 28. Global Poisoning from Battery Recycling Workers smelting lead into ingots
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