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Facts About Lead Batteries

Protecting People: Lead Battery Safety

While the battery industry is the world's largest consumer of lead in the world, the chief sources of lead in the environment—and lead exposure to people—have been transportation, paint, and storage and preparation of water and food. Examples of this exposure include leaded gasoline, leaded paint, lead glaze on pottery, lead in water pipes and fixtures and lead solder. Association with these products and their issues has led to several lead battery myths, making lead batteries a misunderstood product.

There are only two ways for the body to take in lead—either by ingestion or inhalation. Lead is not usually absorbed through the skin or hair.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) threshold for adult workers in battery plants is 50 micrograms of lead per deciliter of whole blood. A worker who tests at 50 micrograms will be moved to a different job in the facility until his or her blood lead level falls. The employee will be counseled and monitored to keep the blood level below the OSHA threshold.

Through a voluntary agreement made with OSHA in 1996, BCI members have worked to reduce the 50 microgram medical removal threshold to 30 micrograms by December 31, 2016. In June 2017. BCI, EUROBAT and ILA announced a new voluntary target of 20 micrograms by the end of 2025 to continue lead battery safety efforts. Read the full release here.

Battery manufacturers and recyclers have education programs and health maintenance programs for their employees, backed up by regular blood lead testing efforts. Regular monitoring of blood lead levels allows a physician to track the success of lead-reduction programs. Test results are a critical tool in the employees' health management programs.

In the workplace, ventilation systems and technology help protect workers. Clean work habits and good hygiene are equally important protectors for adults in the workplace.

Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Dramatic improvements in the performance of lead batteries have come about not through the use of rare or expensive materials but through the creative use of the raw materials that lead battery manufacturers have been using for decades. The use of standard, readily available materials has enabled engineers to achieve technological breakthroughs that are making a new generation of affordable, efficient and environmentally safe lead batteries available for use in hybrid electric vehicles, the electric power grid, and other energy storage programs.

Learn more about lead batteries and hybrid vehicles in our brochure: Facts About Lead: Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV).

Lead and the Economy

An established infrastructure of lead mining and mature manufacturing has made lead batteries one of the most cost effective energy storage technologies. Lead batteries come out on top as the lowest cost of energy and power output per kilowatt-hour.

Well-established and stable mining, together with years of perfecting the recycling process, has created a dependable supply source. In fact, 74% of lead used in manufacturing new lead batteries comes from recycling.

Learn more about lead batteries and energy storage in our brochure: Facts About Lead: Energy Storage/Standby

Motive Power Market

With almost 65% of the forklifts manufactured today powered by lead batteries, lead-based technology is very compatible with today’s motive power needs. One of the main reasons lead products are so widely used is cost efficiency. A highly developed and mature manufacturing process brings “economies of scale” to its mass production. Years of advancing manufacturing equipment to deliver higher production rates continue to optimize the cost savings.

Learn more about lead batteries and motive power in our brochure: Facts About Lead: Motive Power.

A Proven Track Record of Safety 

Over its more than 150-year history, lead battery technology has achieved superior safety and reliability. These characteristics have made it the most commonly used technology in rechargeable batteries for a wide range of applications.

Learn more about lead batteries safety and reliability in our brochure: Facts About Lead: Safety and Reliability.