Toxic waste: batteries
Batteries are labeled: do not throw into the dustbin. What to do with the used ones?
At each battery we can see warning that you should not throw out used batteries into the dustbin. Why cannot you? This question can be answered in terms of chemistry, as well as on the basis of ecology.
Battery is a chemical source of electric current. The most common among household batteries are salt and alkaline batteries.Others types - mercury/zinc, silver/zinc, lithium - are very rare ones.
Passive coal and manganese dioxide are used in salt batteries, ammonium chloride serves as the electrolyte therein, zinc is a material of the cathode. These batteries are not designed for a serious load and are used in remote controls, clocks, radio, toys, electronic thermometer (devices which need tens of milliamps) and torches with low power consumption.
Batteries with alkaline electrolyte are named "alkaline" batteries. They use potassium hydroxide as an alkaline electrolyte, manganese dioxide is the positive pole and zinc powder is the negative one. Alkaline batteries have a long shelf life and are designed for a serious load.
Consequently, batteries contain compounds of heavy metals such as zinc, mercury, manganese and others. It is very dangerous for living creatures. If a battery is dumped into an underground waste collector or a land fill, its metal housing is destroyed by external environmental factors in a year or two. As a result, ions of heavy metals are released into the soil and groundwater. Scientists claim that a battery with heavy metals contaminate 20 square meters of soil.
From aqueous solutions heavy metals can enter plants and animals. By groundwater they are washed into lakes and seas. Thus, the pollution of drinking water sources and the contamination of food takes place. Such processes lead to a gradual disturbance of the ecosystems.
Environmentalists around the world urge people to find a reasonable solution of the problem. Many countries already have experience in organizing collection of used batteries at special collection points, which are located in supermarkets. Collected batteries are subsequently brought to specialized plants for utilization.
How is the problem of utilization of toxic waste such as batteries solved in your district?
Source of information:
Battery // Wikipedia URL: https://ru.wikipedia.org/ (date accessed: 12/14/14).