Khulna, Aug 25 (UNB) – Acid, lead and other harmful chemicals from more than 3,000,000 expired batteries, used in automatic rickshaws and motorized three-wheelers, pose a serious threat to human health and the environment. There are at least 25,000 easy bikes and 11,000 auto-rickshaws in the city, according to Khulna Easy Bike Kalyan Samity and Easy Bike Chalok Samity. An easy bike uses five batteries while an automatic rickshaw has four. These batteries can be used for approximately eight months. This means that approximately 2,41,000 batteries are discarded each year. Arman Munshi, an easy bike rider, said he sells six to seven expired batteries each year, each weighing 18-19 kg, to companies in Sheikhpara Batterypatti at 95-100 Tk per kg.
Soleman, a local battery trader, said there are more than 500 stores in the city that buy expired batteries and collect lead for resale to battery factories.
Kamruzzaman Sarkar, a chemist with the Ministry of the Environment, blamed the lack of monitoring for the situation.
He said the lack of a policy on handling expired batteries means they are treated like any other waste.
Gallons of acid from these batteries are dumped down the drain while the lead is sold to retail buyers. The batteries are melted at high temperature.
Khulna City Corporation conservation officer Md Anisur Rahman said they were monitoring the situation and would take legal action against battery companies that pollute the environment.
Kamruzzaman said lead and acid from discarded batteries eventually enter the food chain and the human body, causing serious health problems.
Professor Dilip Dutta, who teaches environmental science at Khulna University, said lead and sulfuric acid from expired batteries are more dangerous to human health than the environment.
âIf these chemicals get into the human body, they can damage the brain, and sometimes people can become disabled. These chemicals can also cause cancer, âhe said.