Alternatives for Recycling Dry Cell Batteries

Soares, P. S. M. ; Nicolli, F. C. ; Estevez, A. V. ; Barbosa, J. P.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 9
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1998
INTRODUCTION Spent household dry cell batteries are frequently disposed of with metropolitan wastestream (MSW) in landfills where they can leak due to handling or aging. Frequent rain and sun cycles, especially in tropical environments, coupled to the action of leachate, dissolve their metal constituents which will eventually reach rivers, lakes and underground water. It is well known that some of these metals are fundamental to sustain life and that is why living organisms concentrate them through their metabolism, but it has been also recognized that beyond specific limits they can definitely be deleterious to the environment. In other words, high concentration of heavy metals are proven to cause chronic or acute diseases and toxic reactions, by acting on mammals' kidneys, liver and nervous system. In addition, some metals frequently used in household batteries, as mercury and cadmium, are said to be carcinogenic (Landis et al. 1995, Silva et al. 1988). Occasionally, plants to treat MSW are coupled to compost production. Household batteries present in MSW can be dragged into these plants, contaminating their products and eventually reaching vegetables making them not proper to consume by people and animals. Alternatively, batteries are also conveyed to incinerators and burned, throwing into the atmosphere volatile species. These can either act as contaminants as toxic vapor species or be delivered by winds and scavenged by rains contaminating soils and water far away from their source. In conclusion, despite the treatment applied to MSW, one can say that battery residues are potentially environmentally hazardous. The careful assessment of the environmental impact caused by residues of household batteries it is not an easy task and it can be referred as a multivariable problem. First, many different household batteries are produced by industry and the potential environmental hazard associated to their disposal depends primarily on the type of battery and manufacturer's technology. These characteristics will dictate how resistant the battery case is to handling and the
Full Article Download:
(363 kb)