Battery is a device that is placed inside a machine (such as a clock, toy, or car) to supply it with electricity
The increasing global demand for batteries is largely due to the rapid increase in portable power-consuming products such as cellular phones and video cameras, toys and laptop computers. Each year consumers dispose of billions of batteries, all containing toxic or corrosive materials. Some batteries contain toxic metals such as cadmium and mercury, lead and lithium, which become hazardous waste and pose threats to health and the environment if improperly disposed. Manufacturers and retailers are working continuously to reduce the environmental impact of batteries by producing designs that are more recyclable and contain fewer toxic materials.
The global environmental impact of batteries is assessed in terms of four main indicators. These indicators further distinguish the impact of disposable and rechargeable batteries
1 Consumption Of Natural Resources
Production, transportation and distribution of batteries consume natural resources, thereby contributing to an accelerating depletion of natural resources. Rechargeable batteries consume less nonrenewable natural resources than disposable batteries because fewer rechargeable batteries are needed to provide the same amount of energy.
2 Climate Change And Global Warming
The increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s surface is caused by an increasing greenhouse gas effect. The manufacture and transportation of batteries emits exhaust and other pollutants into the atmosphere, thereby contributing to the greenhouse effect. Per unit of energy delivered, rechargeable batteries contribute less to global warming than disposable batteries. This is because less greenhouse gas emissions are associated with the manufacture and transportation of rechargeable batteries.
3 Photochemical Smog Pollution And Air Acidification
Exhaust pollutants undergo photochemical reactions which produce toxic chemicals including ozone, other harmful gases and particulate substances. The thermal inversions associated with large cities can lead to a dangerous buildup of photochemical smog, which is known to cause human deaths. Air acidification is the accumulation of acidic substances in atmospheric particles. These particles, deposited by rain, have an impact on soil and ecosystems. Rechargeable batteries contribute less to these atmospheric effects than disposable batteries because they contribute less to air pollution.
4 Ecotoxicity And Water Pollution
Potential toxic risks are associated with emission of battery chemicals into aquatic ecosystems. Improper or careless handling of waste batteries can result in release of corrosive liquids and dissolved metals that are toxic to plants and animals. Improper disposal of batteries in landfill sites can result in the release of toxic substances into groundwater and the environment.
Injuries and death can occur in any workplace where batteries are charged and changed out to power a piece of machinery or equipment.
Being involved with or around the process of changing out and charging these batteries, one is exposed to potential chemical and electrical burns and explosions, as well as the possibility of injuries from dropping heavy batteries.
Batteries pose a hazard because:
- They are very heavy, weighing as much as 2,000 pounds.
- They contain corrosive sulfuric acid, which can spill when servicing or changing batteries.
- Contact with battery cells can cause electrical short circuits that can burn unprotected skin.
- When being charged, batteries can give off highly explosive hydrogen fumes.
Note that fires and explosions have occurred in battery-charging areas when undetected ventilation failures permitted the buildup of hydrogen gas. Ensure ventilation system and hydrogen detection alarm installation to prevent incident.
When Using Battery:
- Always follow warnings and manufacturer’s instructions for both the batteries and the battery-operated product. Use only the correct type and size battery indicated.
- Check the contacts of both the battery and the battery-operated product for cleanliness.
- Always insert the batteries correctly with regard to polarity (-/+), matching the positive and negative symbols of both battery and product. Putting them in backwards, the product will sometimes still operate, but may inadvertently charge the batteries resulting in venting or leaking.
- Do not allow minors or children to install batteries.
- Make sure that button batteries in household items stay securely in the products. Look for products with battery compartments that prevent easy access. For example, screw-closed compartments are harder to access than those that simply slide to open.
- Remove and safely dispose of exhausted batteries immediately.
- Replace all batteries in battery-operated products at the same time and with the batteries of the same type and manufacture.
- Do not use different types of batteries together.
- Do not mix old batteries with new ones.
- Do not mix rechargeable batteries with non-rechargeable ones
- Do not short circuit batteries. When the positive (+) and negative (-) terminals of a battery are in contact with each other, the battery can become short circuited. For example, loose batteries in a pocket with keys or coins can be short circuited possibly resulting in venting or explosion.
- Do not heat batteries.
- Do not crush, puncture, dismantle or otherwise damage batteries.
- Do not charge non-rechargeable batteries.
- Use the correct battery charger for the battery type
- Keep batteries out of reach of small children. Batteries are not toys–do not let kids handle them.
- Do not allow both adults and children to take battery-operated items to bed. Burns and other injuries can occur if the batteries leak or overheat during the night.
When Changing or Charging Batteries:
- Batteries should be stored in specially designed and designated areas. Charge batteries only in the designated battery-charging area.
- Be especially cautious when maneuvering lift trucks in the battery-charging area. Puncturing a battery or charger with lift-truck forks could result in electrical shock or a spill of acidic electrolyte.
- Do not smoke in the charging area.
- Do not create or allow open flames, sparks, or electric arcs in battery-charging areas.
- Know where the eyewash station and safety shower are located and how to use them.
- Make sure equipment for flushing and neutralizing spilled electrolytic solution is in place.
- Check that protection equipment, such as fire extinguishers, is nearby and functional in case hydrogen gas becomes ignited.
- Before moving any battery, check to make sure that all the vent caps are in place to prevent electrolyte from sloshing and spilling out when the battery is moved.
- Properly position the truck and apply the brakes before attempting to change or charge batteries.
- Use a lifting beam, battery cart, or equivalent material-handling equipment when lifting and transporting the battery.
- Wear safety goggles designed for working with acidic liquids in case the electrolyte bubbles or sprays up.
- Wear a face shield to protect the face from the electrolyte.
- Wear neoprene or rubber gloves that resist the acid of the electrolyte and protect hands.
- Wear a neoprene or rubber apron to protect clothing and skin from the acid.
- Keep tools and other metallic objects away from the top of batteries. Do not lay metallic objects on top of batteries.
- Always follow the recharger manufacturer’s recommendations for attaching and removing cables and properly operating the equipment.
- Unplug and turn off the charger before connecting or disconnecting the clamp connections.
- Attach the positive clamp (+, usually colored red) to the positive terminal first, and then the negative clamp (–, usually colored black) to the negative terminal, keeping the proper polarity.
- Make sure the vent caps are functioning.
- Leave the battery (or compartment) cover(s) open to dissipate heat.
- Turn off the charger if the battery becomes hot or the electrolyte fluid comes out of the vents. Restart charging at a lower charging rate.
- Check the electrolyte level before recharging. Record the specific gravity with the hydrometer in the service log. Check the pilot cell.
- Always pour concentrated acid slowly into water. Never pour water into acid.
- Do not add water before recharging. Check the water level after charging. Add distilled water or deionized water (NOT tap water), if necessary, according to the water level indicator. Record data in service log.
- Check the voltage. If the battery has sealed vents, do not recharge with a current greater than 25 amperes.
- Check the indicator on the hour meter to see that the battery is fully charged.
- Store batteries in their original packaging and in a cool, dark place away from household chemicals.
- Store batteries away from medicine and food so that they are not swallowed by accident.
- Store batteries out of children’s reach and sight.
- Do not store batteries where they can touch metal, like coins.
- Remove batteries from items that will not be used for an extended period of time, such as seasonal decorations.
- Avoid throwing batteries out in household garbage. Many retailers and local governments have battery recycling programs that allow you to drop off old batteries. Contact your local government for a list of drop-off centres.
- Never toss batteries into a fire. They might burst or explode.
- Recycling: About 90 percent of lead-acid batteries are now recycled. Reclamation companies send crushed batteries to facilities for reprocessing and manufacture into new products. Nonautomotive lead-based batteries, which are accepted by many automotive companies and waste agencies, are subject to the same recycling processes. Several reclamation companies now process all types of dry-cell batteries, both disposable and rechargeable, including alkaline and carbon-zinc, mercuric oxide and silver oxide, zinc-air and lithium.