Parker Waichman LLP

Spent U.S. Batteries May Be Poisoning Mexican Children, Workers

Old batteries recycled by Americans may be putting the health of children in Mexico at risk. According to a report from The New York Times, once they are recycled in Mexico, lead is extracted from those batteries in a process that exposes plant workers and local residents to dangerous levels of the toxic metal. About […]

Old batteries recycled by Americans may be putting the health of children in Mexico at risk. According to a report from The New York Times, once they are recycled in Mexico, lead is extracted from those batteries in a process that exposes plant workers and local residents to dangerous levels of the toxic metal.

About 20 percent of spent American vehicle and industrial batteries are now exported to Mexico, up from 6 percent in 2007, the Times said. According to U.S. trade statistics, about 20 million such batteries will cross the border this year. The traffic in old lead batteries is increasing because strict lead regulations in the U.S. make recycling them here difficult and expensive. Meanwhile, the demand for lead, once cheap and readily available but now in short global supply, has skyrocketed, the Times said.

The U.S. rules require that lead battery recyclers operate in sealed, highly mechanized plants where smokestacks are fitted with scrubbers and the perimeters monitored by lead detection devices. But in Mexico, plant workers manually dismantle batteries with hammers, and the lead they contain is melted down in smelters. Smokestacks vent lead-tainted smoke into surrounding communities.

Thirty miles from Mexico City, in Naucalpan de Juarez, one such facility operated by Industrial Mondelo may be taking a terrible toll on the surrounding community, according to the Times. The town’s elementary school is on the same block as the recycling plant. Though it recently moved the bulk of its operations to a larger facility elsewhere, the Times pointed out that lead can contaminate soil for decades. A sample of soil collected by The Times in the schoolyard showed a lead level of 2,000 parts per million, five times the limit for children’s play areas. In the U.S., the playground would be deemed a significant hazard and require immediate remediation.

Perry Gottesfeld, executive director of the nonprofit organization, Occupational Knowledge International (OK International), was the primary source for the New York Times expose, according to a press release issued by the group. The Times’ report was based on an investigation conducted by OK International that documented, for the first time, the significant increases in U.S. battery exports to Mexico and the hazards these exports pose. The group’s investigation is summarized in a report entitled “Exporting Hazards: U.S. Shipments of Used Lead Batteries to Mexico Take Advantage of Lax Environmental and Worker Health Regulations.”

“Our investigation revealed that used car batteries from the U.S. are contributing to higher lead emissions in Mexico due to shoddy recycling practices,” Gottsfield said. “There are blatant deficiencies in regulations and environmental protections in the Mexican recycling industry compared to U.S. standards.”

While Mexico does have some regulation for smelting and recycling lead, the laws are poorly enforced, experts said.

“If we export, we should only be sending batteries to countries with standards as strict as ours, and in Mexico that is not the case,” Gottesfeld told the Times.

What Our Clients Say About Us
We have worked with thousands of clients and we appreciate them and their positive reviews. Here are just a few recent client reviews...
5 Star Reviews 150
First time with working with parker waichman. Excellent staff will recommend to my friends and family.
Benny G.
2 months ago
5 Star Reviews 150
I would like to thank the Parker Waichman Staff for helping me throughout this journey, Bonita Rollis was exceptionally awesome in guiding me throughout this process. From the beginning she offered hospitality and wished me longevity in my course of healing. We creation a connection, which made it easier for me to understand the process. I explored with questions and she listened with patience and provided recommendations every time we spoke. I have and will always recommend this firm to any of my family and friends.
donna rayside
a year ago
5 Star Reviews 150
Positive: Professionalism , Quality , Responsiveness , Value Thankyou for all the hard work and time you put in for helping me with my case Christina "Tina" Morace I really appreciate all you have done MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU & YOUR FAMILY stay safe
thomas smith
3 years ago

Why Choose Us to Help You?

We Take Care of Everything
Your situation is stressful enough: Let us take on the deadlines, paperwork, investigation, and litigation. We'll handle every detail so you don't have to worry.
No Recovery = No Legal Fees
We work on a contingency-fee basis, meaning that we only get paid from a portion of your settlement or jury award. If you don't get compensation, you owe us nothing.
Decades of Experience
Your situation is stressful enough: Let us take on the deadlines, paperwork, investigation, and litigation. We'll handle every detail so you don't have to worry.
Respected by Our Peers
Judges, insurance adjusters, and fellow attorneys all speak highly of our skills, and we've earned numerous accolades, including a flawless rating from AVVO.
We Have Many Locations To Serve You
We have the experience and the skilled litigators to win your case. Contact us and speak with a real attorney who can help you.
New York
Parker Waichman LLP
59 Maiden Lane, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10038
  • (212) 267-6700
Florida
Parker Waichman LLP
27299 Riverview Center Boulevard, Suite 108
Bonita Springs, FL 34134
  • (239) 390-1000
Queens
Parker Waichman LLP
118-35 Queens Boulevard, Suite 400
Forest Hills, NY 11375
  • (718) 469-6900
Long Island – Nassau
Parker Waichman LLP
6 Harbor Park Drive
Port Washington, NY 11050
  • (516) 466-6500
Nationwide Service
Parker Waichman LLP
59 Maiden Lane, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10038
  • (800) 968-7529
Brooklyn
Parker Waichman LLP
300 Cadman Plaza West
One Pierrepont Plaza, 12th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11201
  • (718) 469-6900
New Jersey
Parker Waichman LLP
80 Main Street, Suite 265
West Orange, NJ 07052
  • (973) 323-3603
Long Island – Suffolk
Parker Waichman LLP
201 Old Country Road – Suite 145
Melville, NY 11747
  • (631) 390-0800