Recycling: Avoiding lead contamination

The average Israeli throws out 14 batteries a year. What can be done to prevent harm to human health and the environment?

Batteries. [File]
Photo by: REUTERS
The pressure of a fingertip on a button, and a battery-powered device begins working. Batteries keep our everyday lives wound up. They power cellphones, electronic reading and music devices, laptops, hearing aids, watches, cameras, flashlights, remote controls, toys, calculators, toothbrushes, scales, and home medical aids. Don’t forget the lights in our refrigerators. Yet, we seldom give thought to where old batteries go when they die – or how their afterlives affect us.

When not safely disposed of, batteries come back to haunt us like troubled spirits. Mixed up with household garbage, they wind up in landfills, coming into contact with moist, acidic, organic matter that corrodes their outer shells. Rainfall helps the process. Their contents leak out, and much of their contents are toxic. Cadmium, nickel, lead, cobalt and mercury from disintegrating batteries contaminate the ground, ultimately reaching groundwater sources.

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