Uncontrolled used of lead acid batteries

The persistent power crisis in Pakistan has substantially led to the increased use of uninterrupted power supply (UPS) and since most of the people, being financially unable to afford proper batteries which are manufactured for UPS, prefer to use ordinary batteries (car batteries) in UPS. Since most of the people prefer to install batteries close to living rooms being ignorant of the fact that inhaling lead fumes coming out of conventional Lead Acid Battery regularly is like taking a daily dose of poison as it causes tiredness, muscle pain and stomach aches, damage the liver, kidney, blood cells and nerves. Lead acid batteries are rechargeable made of lead plates situated in a bath of sulfuric acid. Once the lead acid battery ceases to be effective, it is unusable and deemed a used lead acid battery (ULAB), which is classified as a hazardous waste under the Basel Convention.In Pakistan ULAB recycling and smelting operations are often located in densely populated urban areas with few (if any) pollution controls. In many cases the local recycling operations are not managed in an environmentally sound manner and release lead contaminated waste into the local environment and ecosystem in critical quantities. Dismantling of lead acid batteries is mostly done by the economically marginalised segments of the society in highly populated areas, needing an additional source of income. However, they are totally ignorant of the health hazards attached with this risky business. Most commonly batteries are haphazardly dumped on the ground, waste pile or into the nearest water body. As the lead plates are melted, lead ash falls into the surrounding environment, collects on clothing, or is directly inhaled by people in close proximity. Resultantly, soil containing lead compounds can turn to dust and become airborne, enabling the lead compounds to be easily inhaled or ingested in a variety of ways. Lead can also leach into water supplies. However, chronic poisoning from absorbing low amounts of lead over long periods of time is a much more common and pervasive problem. Lead can enter the human body through the lungs or the mouth, and over long periods can accumulate in the bones. Blacksmith Institute estimates that over 12 million people are affected by lead contamination from processing of ULAB throughout the developing world. This figure is quite enough to ring alarm bells for the developing states. Since the government of Pakistan is signatory to a number of international Protocols and Conventions on human health as well as environment, the main responsibility rest with it to take effective steps in this regard in addition to initiation of a study to calculate the worst effects of use of lead acid batteries at homes.

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