Enhancement of Environmental Impact
The environmental pollution caused by accumulators starts from the moment they are left by their owners, in places such as along the streets, in the fields, on the beaches, etc.
As a result, the environmentally safe collection and treatment of spent batteries will allow a 75% reduction in hazardous waste from its abandonment to the environment.
Recycling of batteries also offers energy savings of 70% for energy consumption to produce primary lead equivalents.
When recycling used batteries, a percentage of 70 – 75% is recycled, while 20 – 25% is the hazardous and non-hazardous waste from the treatment of lead acid batteries.
For all these reasons, in 1991 the use of lead compounds in motor fuels was prohibited, which per liter of gasoline was about 2 grams
Lead (Pd), above a certain concentration, is toxic to humans. Continuous or acute excessive exposure to lead can cause serious and cumulative health problems. Lead influences the basic organs as well as the central nervous and circulatory system.
Exposure to lead is very serious for young children because they absorb lead more easily than adults and are more susceptible to its harmful effects. During pregnancy, particularly in the last three months, lead can penetrate the placenta and affect the fetus.
Lead, due to its mismanagement, has a negative impact on the ecosystem, including marine life development and productivity, and fish toxicity.
According to Directive 67/548 / EEC, lead compounds are generally classified as:
- Repr. Cat.1, R61 – Substance toxic for reproduction category 11 / .Possible harm to unborn children.
- Repr. Cat. 3, R62 – Possible harm to unborn children 32 / Possible risk of impaired fertility.
- Xn R20 / 22 – Harmful if swallowed or inhaled.
- R33 – Risk of cumulative effects.
- N R50-53 – Dangerous for the environment / Very toxic to aquatic organisms, may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment.
A non-recycling system battery is:
- 100% waste (average weight 13kg)
- 20 wt. is free electrolyte = 2.6 kg
- 7 wt% is electrolyte impregnated = 0.91 kg
- 10 wt. are plastic materials = 1.3 kg
A rechargeable battery produces 25% by weight of waste corresponding to 3.25 kg of which:
- 80% by weight of the above (3.25 kg) is hazardous waste = 2.2 kg of lead slags
- 20 wt. plastic materials = 0.65 kg
Sulfuric acid contained in a Lead accumulator causes surface and groundwater degradation. Its effect on amphibian life is immediate by causing death in fish and any other life.
The degree of effect depends on the concentration in sulfuric acid noted in the aquatic environment, the concentration of the sulfuric acid% by weight. in the electrolyte of the accumulators is in the order of 12 – 25%.
Sulfuric acid diffusion is included in substances in the United States included in the Emergency Planning and Community Right – to – Know Act for spills over 0.45kg in the environment to be reported annually and included in toxic emissions (TRIs).
Rates for the classification of groundwater bodies
- Category 1 (no effect on humans) <25mg / l
- Category 2-3 <250 mg / l
- Category 4 (significant effect in humans)> 250mg / l
With reference to the above values, it is possible to assess the possible environmental effect of acid electrolyte on the quality of groundwater intended for human consumption:
- The sulfuric acid contained in the electrolyte of a used battery may contaminate about 1200 liters of underground drinking water in excess of the maximum acceptable concentration limits.
- Sulfuric acid contained as free in all accumulators accumulated annually in Greece may poison about 3 million cubic meters of underground drinking water outside the maximum acceptable concentration
Cadmium (Cd) is a toxic and carcinogenic substance. The International Cancer Research Organization regards Cd as a known carcinogen for humans.
Epidemiological studies for workers exposed to Cd show a large number of lung cancer. The main non-cancer endpoint of concern is damage to the kidneys. Also, in a high level of exposure, bone disorders and haematological disorders were observed. A wider range of organ toxicity has been demonstrated in animals.
According to Directive 67/548 / EEC, cadmium compounds are generally classified as:
- XnR20 / 21/22 – Harmful by inhalation, in contact with skin or if swallowed
- NR50-53 – Very toxic to aquatic organisms, may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment.
On the basis of the results of the risk assessment carried out under Regulation 793/93 / EEC, the following cadmium and cadmium oxide classification is proposed for the 29th PIT of Directive 67/548 / EEC.
- TR48 / 23/25 – Toxic: danger of serious damage to health by prolonged exposure through inhalation and if swallowed.
- CT + R26 – Very toxic if inhaled
- Carc Cat. Cat 2, R45 – Category 2 carcinogen “Substance to be considered as carcinogenic to humans”
- Move. Cat. 3, R68 – Mutagenic substance of category 3 “Substance that gives cause for concern about potential mutagenic effects” / Possible risk of irreversible effects.
- Repr. Cat. R62-63 – Substance toxic for reproduction category 3 “Substance that causes human developmental toxicity and is of concern for potential toxic effects on development” / Possible risk of impaired fertility and possible harm to unborn children
- N R50-53 – Dangerous for the environment / Very toxic to aquatic organisms. It causes adverse long-term effects on the aquatic environment.
Physicochemical characteristics of used lead – acid batteries
The used lead acid batteries are composed of metallic lead, lead oxides, lead sulphate, electrolyte and polypropylene, which is the container of the previous materials.
The electrolyte (sulfuric acid) is a transparent, oily and odorless liquid. It is highly corrosive and soluble in water. Concentrated sulfuric acid mixed with water reacts strongly with heat generation.
Concentrated sulfuric acid can cause explosion or ignition in contact with metals, acetone, alcohols. Heated can cause toxic vapors with high sulfur trioxide content.
Physicochemical characteristics of spent nickel – cadmium accumulators
Another electrochemical system comparable to that of lead is nickel-cadmium accumulators.
Safety Data Sheets (if any) and general information on the adverse effects of used lead – acid and nickel – cadmium accumulators on human health and the environment, first aid and protective equipment.
The diffusion of the above materials to the environment, and in particular lead and its compounds, cadmium hydroxide and electrolyte (sulfuric acid solution), cause very significant effects on the human and natural environment.
Sulfuric acid is corrosive and irritating, causing irritation to the skin, eyes, respiratory tract and digestive tract, if exposure to a high concentration of sulfuric acid has a long duration.
Contact with skin causes burns, the extent of which depends on the sulfuric acid concentration of the solution and the duration of exposure to it. Explosive burns can be fatal.
High concentrations of vapors, sulfuric acid can cause the above phenomena.
Contact with eyes may cause blindness. Swallowing sulfuric acid can cause burns in the tongue, throat, esophagus and stomach.
Symptoms can range from nausea and vomiting, to cardiac arrest.
Small amounts of sulfuric acid that can come into contact with the lungs during vomiting or ingestion can cause significant damage and death.
Inhalation of sulfuric acid solutions, given the low volatility of sulfuric acid, can be a high risk if it diffuses into the environment in gaseous form. Because of the corrosive ability that has caused significant damage if we inhale it.
Among the most intense effects we note the dangerous lesions it causes to the lungs and possible fluid concentration (electrolyte) causes swelling that can be fatal.
Acid vapor exposures with concentrations between 21-39 mg / mc have caused symptoms of heavy burns in the upper respiratory tract and signs of inhibition of pulmonary function.
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration – USA) has set the TWA (Time Weighted Average) to 1 mg / mc.
According to the International Society for the Study of Cancer (IARC), there is enough evidence that prolonged exposure to concentrations of sulfuric acid in fog or aerosol (in working environments) is carcinogenic for humans.
These classifications are applied to the gaseous form of a sulfuric acid solution and not to sulfuric acid or an aqueous sulfuric acid solution.
Pathological symptoms occur mainly in the larynx and to a lesser extent in the lungs.
Sulfuric acid causes degradation of surface and groundwater. Its effect on amphibian life is immediate by causing death in fish and any other life.
The degree of effect depends on the concentration in sulfuric acid noted in the aquatic environment.
The diffusion of sulfuric acid is included in the substances in America included in the Emergency Planning and Community Right – to – Know Act for diffusions of over 0.45kg in the environment to be reported annually and included in toxic emissions (TCI).