Recycled U.S. Automobile Batteries Endangering Workers, Surrounding Residents in Mexico

By Richard Console on December 12, 2011 - Comments off

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 96 percent of all lead-acid automobile batteries are recycled. Recycling is a word that brings up thoughts of saving the planet and living “green.” However, batteries conjure thoughts of poison. So what exactly happens to all those old batteries that contain so many toxic chemicals?

An article in the New York Times revealed that more and more of these batteries are being sent to Mexico where workers extract the lead from the used batteries. The problem in Mexico is not only the effect this dangerous procedure is having on the employees but also the effect it is having on the surrounding communities and its residents.

The NYT went on to explain that in 2007, 6 percent of automotive and industrial batteries were exported to Mexico. What is the percentage now, you may wonder? 20. 20 percent of these batteries are being sent to Mexico, and that’s only the ones that are being brought their to the government’s knowledge. Smuggled batteries and batteries within other goods are also going into the country.

What’s the big deal about Mexico having a bunch of our trash essentially? The workers that recycle the batteries in Mexico have to break the battery open in order to do so. This releases lead from the battery and later when the used batteries are melted down that releases the lead in emissions.

Lead poisoning has been linked to a number of harmful health effects including kidney damage, severe behavioral and developmental issues in children, abdominal pain, and more.

According to the NYT article, soil at a school near one such recycling plant revealed traces of lead in it when tested. Countless people are being exposed to lead due to these recycling plants. Batter recycling plants in the U.S. seem to have safety and security measures that lock down the place like they were avoiding an airborne plague, but the Mexican plants do not have access to these types of secured methods.

The reason nothing is being done basically boils down to the fact that Mexico has regulations about proper recycling but they are poorly enforced. There are limits on how much each plant is allowed to release both here and in Mexico, but in Mexico they can release 20 times more than they would be able to here, says the NYT.

Companies that are sending their recycling to Mexico have the ability to turn out more than they could in the U.S. These companies make claims that they will bring their plants there as safe as the ones here, but it could simply be it’s more cost effective there and nothing will be done to fix the hazards. Lead is valuable and companies can get away with more by outsourcing the recycling to Mexico—you tell me, do you think they care about the lead poisoned residents and workers?

If you have been exposed to lead poisoning from an automobile battery contact a Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer. Call us today for your FREE, no obligation consultation at (866) 778-5500.

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