Smug eco-twits don’t give a shit about dead Mexicans and their brain-damaged children. All they know is, they’re “saving the planet” by recycling their batteries.
The spent batteries Americans turn in for recycling are increasingly being sent to Mexico, where their lead is often extracted by crude methods that are illegal in the United States, exposing plant workers and local residents to dangerous levels of a toxic metal.
The rising flow of batteries is a result of strict new Environmental Protection Agency standards on lead pollution, which make domestic recycling more difficult and expensive, but do not prohibit companies from exporting the work and the danger to countries where standards are low and enforcement is lax.
Spent batteries house up to 40 pounds of lead, which can cause high blood pressure, kidney damage and abdominal pain in adults, and serious developmental delays and behavioral problems in young children because it interferes with neurological development. When batteries are broken for recycling, the lead is released as dust and, during melting, as lead-laced emissions.
For much of the past decade, at the vast recycling compound of Industrial Mondelo here, batteries have been dismantled by men wielding hammers, and their lead melted in furnaces whose smokestacks vent to the air outside, where lead particles can settle everywhere from schoolyards to food carts. Officials of the plant, which has been given more than a dozen citations and fines for lead emissions and improper storage of dangerous materials, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
What’s the carbon footprint of a typical Mexican’s funeral?