Recycling used lead-acid batteries & its health considerations (INTRODUCTION)

Makeshift recycling operation, batteries are broken… Apo Market, Abuja

Introduction

Approximately 85% of the total global consumption of lead is for the production of lead-acid batteries (ILA, 2017). This represents a fast-growing market, especially in Asia (Future Market Insights, 2014). The main uses of these batteries are in motorized vehicles, for storage of energy generated by photovoltaic cells and wind turbines, and for back-up power supplies (for both the consumer market and for critical systems such as telecommunications and hospitals). In developing countries where power supplies are unreliable, lead-acid batteries are used domestically for lighting and electrical appliances (UNEP, 2004). The growth in the use of renewable energy sources and the concomitant need for storage batteries, as well as the increasing demand for motor vehicles as countries undergo economic development, mean that the demand for lead-acid batteries will continue to increase. This is reflected in the increased global demand for refined lead metal, which was estimated at 10.83 million tonnes in 2016 (International Metals Study Groups, 2016). The demand is being met by increases in both primary lead production from mines and recycling. Indeed, currently over half of the global production of lead is from lead recycling (ILA, 2015).

Approximately 85% of the total global consumption of lead is for the production of lead-acid batteries (ILA, 2017). This represents a fast-growing market, especially in Asia (Future Market Insights, 2014). The main uses of these batteries are in motorized vehicles, for storage of energy generated by photovoltaic cells and wind turbines, and for back-up power supplies (for both the consumer market and for critical systems such as telecommunications and hospitals). In developing countries where power supplies are unreliable, lead-acid batteries are used domestically for lighting and electrical appliances (UNEP, 2004). The growth in the use of renewable energy sources and the concomitant need for storage batteries, as well as the increasing demand for motor vehicles as countries undergo economic development, mean that the demand for lead-acid batteries will continue to increase. This is reflected in the increased global demand for refined lead metal, which was estimated at 10.83 million tonnes in 2016 (International Metals Study Groups, 2016). The demand is being met by increases in both primary lead production from mines and recycling. Indeed, currently over half of the global production of lead is from lead recycling (ILA, 2015).

Recycling used lead-acid batteries is of public health concern because this industry is associated with a high level of occupational exposure and environmental emissions. Furthermore, there is no known safe level of exposure to lead, and the health impacts of lead exposure are significant. Based on 2016 data, it is estimated that lead exposure accounted for 495 550 deaths and 9.3 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost due to long term impacts on health, with the highest burden in low- and middle-income countries (IHME, 2016). Young children and women of childbearing age are particularly vulnerable to exposure to, and the toxic effects of, lead.


Some use cutlasses to hack open batteries… Obosi, Anambra State

 Some use cutlasses to hack open batteries… Obosi, Anambra State

Nigeria

Over 500,000 tons of used lead acid batteries are generated in Nigeria and informally recycled to be exported to markets in India and China

During the course of a research titled: “Soil Contamination from Lead Battery Manufacturing and Recycling in Seven African Countries,” which was published in the Journal of Environmental Research.

The researchers tested areas surrounding 16 authorized industrial facilities in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and Tunisia, and claimed that activities in some facilities in Lagos and Ogun states where recycling occurs posed significant health risks to the public.

A total of 21 soil samples from lead battery recycling factories sites in Lagos and Ogun states including Abia, Oyo, Anambra, Kano, Abuja and Kaduna were analysed. Samples were tested in EMSL Analytical, Incorporation, United States of America, which show that lead levels around lead battery recycling plants in Nigeria ranged up to 29,000parts per million (ppm) outside the facilities tested and 140,000ppm inside the facility tested.

The study found that spent batteries housed up to 40 pounds of lead, which can cause high blood pressure, kidney damage and abdominal pain in adults, and serious developmental delays and behavioral problems in young children because it interferes with neurological development.

“One of the facilities tested in Ota (Ogun state) is located within approximately 20 meters of a residential district with about 200 inhabitants. At another facility in Ogijo (Ogun state), “waste water run-off from the factory is used to irrigate surrounding farmlands.”

“The contamination levels in soil ranged up to 14 per cent lead with average concentrations of two per cent lead. About 15 of the samples (71per cent) were greater than 400 ppm or the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) limit for soil. Levels below 80 ppm are considered safe for children”, Part of the report was collected by SRADev Nigeria

Leslie Adogame executive director of SRADev Nigeria said a key problem is that there are no industry specific regulations controlling the release of lead from these recycling plants or to protect workers and children in surrounding communities.”

Understandably, the report has generated a lot of reactions but the problem of lead contamination in Nigeria may actually be worse than imagined. The tests were conducted in authorised lead recycling plants, what obtains in unauthorised centres is far worse.

Liquid acid extraction

The practice of breaking up the acid to drain the acid before the batteries are transported to Lagos is to reduce the weight when transporting them. Many local smelters encourage the practice by offering better prices for “dry” batteries

Informal recyclers collect molten to form lead through a local kiln

Makeshift smelters

Informal recyclers then proceed to extract lead from the used batteries in a process that is injurious to their health as well as the environment. Many locations where local smelters used to operate in Lagos have closed down due to the intense enforcement raids by the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA).

But a few plants exists and many in backwater communities around Lagos including at Ijora, Ketu, Ojota, Orile, Ajah, Apapa and Satellite Town. Many operate inside private houses which are often located at the outskirts of the town. However, their operations follow a basic format of extracting lead through a heating process.

Reseachers could not access the facilities of Metal Recycling Industries located in Ogun state, said to be one of the biggest smelters, but inquiries indicated that ULABs recycling thrives in the facility which advertises itself as a copper and metal recycling facility. Collectors as far as Onitsha confirmed that Metal Recycling Industries were major buyers of ULABs.

Another big smelter, Metal Recycling World in Illupeju industrial estate, Lagos, process lead dust for exports but the conditions are not pleasant. I observed that the workers were not wearing any form of personal protective equipment, some working with their bare hands. Lead dust is blown into the atmosphere and the facility is near a commercial hub of Lagos — Oshodi.


1 comment:

  1. 어떤 치료를 받고 있든 항상 치료사에게 자신이 임신했거나 임신했을 가능성이 있다고 생각하는지 알려야 합니다. 또한 귀하가 받고 있는 치료 또는 약물을 포함하여 귀하가 가지고 있는 모든 의학적 상태에 대해서도 알려야 합니다. 이는 귀하에게 적합한 신체 치료에 영향을 미칠 수 있기 때문입니다.

    의왕 마사지: 예약금 없는 출장샵

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