Stop U.S. Exportation of Dangerous Lead Batteries to Mexico

Target: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Goal: Prevent further lead poisoning incidents by stopping the exportation of hazardous spent lead-acid batteries to Mexico.

The average car battery contains approximately 20 pounds of lead, a chemical known to be poisonous to humans in large doses. Almost all the lead found in car batteries can be removed and recycled safely, but many businesses in the U.S. are exporting spent lead-acid batteries to Mexico, where recycling fees are cheaper than those of domestic facilities. Mexico does not possess the strict regulations on occupational safety and environmental protection necessary to carry out lead recovery in a way that does not pose a threat to workers or the surrounding ecosystems. Despite this fact, businesses in the U.S. have more than doubled their exports of spent lead-acid batteries to Mexico since November 2010.

Workers in metal-processing plants have been found to have average blood lead levels five times that of an average American worker. Lack of environmental protection enforcement also allows for lead to leech out into nearby water supplies and soil. In 2001, the U.S. Center for Disease Control tested 367 children living near the Met-Mex Penoles plant and found that 45% of the children living closest to the plant had blood lead levels indicative of lead poisoning. Yet no action has been taken since to reduce exports of these dangerous batteries to Mexico or any other developing nation. It should be noted that these same batteries also contain sulfuric acid.

Exporting spent batteries is not only harmful to the lives of the Mexican people, but also to the jobs of the American work force. With the United States in economic crisis, it is unjust that businesses would take away the opportunity to work from so many skilled laborers without jobs. America has both the means and the regulations to handle our own lead recovery in a way that would be safe for workers and the environment. Please ask the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to expand its restrictions on spent lead-acid batteries to include a ban on their exportation to Mexico. Further, ask that they offer incentives to businesses that use domestic facilities for lead recycling.

PETITION LETTER

Dear U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,

Last year, over 520 million pounds in spent lead-acid batteries were exported from the U.S. to Mexico for lead recovery. Each battery contains approximately 20 pounds of lead, as well as concerning amounts of sulfuric acid. Rather than providing valuable jobs to the growing number of unemployed in the U.S., businesses continue to export to save on recycling fees. However, Mexico does not have the necessary regulations to protect their workers and the surrounding environment from hazardous lead contamination.

Due to lack of occupational safety enforcement, many of the laborers that work in Mexican metal-processing plants have blood lead levels five times that of the average American worker. These inadequacies in safety also spread far beyond the reaches of any one plant. In 2001, a study done by the CDC found that 25% of children living in the surrounding area of the Met-Mex Penoles plant had BLLs indicative of lead poisoning. The numbers grew to 45% in those tested children living closest to the plant. Despite these alarming realities, U.S. exportation of hazardous lead-containing batteries to Mexico has still doubled since November 2010.

Lead poisoning can greatly impact the nervous system, causing severe brain damage, and is potentially fatal. Not only does this practice risk lives, it also risks American jobs. Please expand restrictions on spent lead-acid batteries to include a ban on exportation to Mexico. Further, offer incentives to businesses that use domestic facilities for their lead recovery and recycling needs. Protect the lives and environment of the Mexican people. Protect the livelihoods of U.S. laborers.

Sincerely,
[Your Name Here]

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2 Comments

  1. Schandra Madha says:

    Exportation or exploitation? We should be setting the example for better safety standards, not taking advantage of the dangerous conditions that exist in developing nations for our own profit.

  2. Schandra Madha says:

    For further information, you can reference Occupational Knowledge International. Their data on instances of lead poisoning in Chinese children working in these plants is overwhelming.

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