Amid rising concern with the final destination of batteries (both domestic and industrial), the use of products made with asbestos, and the importation of industrial residuals that are used in fertilizers, the National Environmental Council (Conama) met to discuss legal norms for the use, handling and disposal of these items which are all toxic to humans.
As for batteries, a two-pronged approach is underway, says Bertoldo Silva Costa, a sanitation and environmental engineer at Conama.
"First we want to make the battery less dangerous for the user. Then we want to ensure that after it is used it can be disposed of, in landfills, for example, or recycled, without presenting a further danger," he explained.
Costa says the way to do this is by reducing the presence of heavy metals in batteries. He points out that since 1999 Brazil has had norms on batteries (Resolution 279), but those norms have to be updated.
Since the implementation of the 1999 norms the domestic battery has been improved immensely. But the four-kilo automobile battery, made of lead, is not dealt with in the 1999 norms and the result is that one of those batteries will cause more damage to the environment than a truckload of domestic batteries, explains Costa.
Conama intends to begin an educational campaign to make the public aware of the problem.