Environmental Concerns About Electric Lift Truck Batteries
Electric forklifts are usually more stable and safer than gas and diesel powered lift trucks. Diesel and gasoline engines emit toxic exhaust and pose a risk of fire. However, electric lift trucks can be hazardous, too. They have rechargeable batteries as their source of power, and batteries could present risks to the natural environment as well as to personal safety. There are hazards associated with the disposal, storage, use and manufacture of rechargeable batteries for lift trucks.
Nearly all lift truck batteries are made by placing lead plates into a solution of sulfuric acid. These are called lead-acid rechargeable batteries. Lead is a toxin which, when utilized in manufacturing processes, poses hazards to water quality due to runoff and drainage. Once lead enters a water system it could cause a range of health issues to living beings and could even be fatal. The sulfuric acid utilized in forklift batteries is really detrimental to skin and can result in severe burns. Sulfuric acid also produces noxious fumes which can cause damage to both the natural world and to human beings.
Regular Use and Storage
Lead-acid batteries could produce hydrogen gas as a chemical byproduct when recharging. When recharging batteries for any kinds of vehicle or a forklift, smoking, sparks, flames and heat must be kept well away from the recharging place. The flammable hydrogen could result in an explosion if ignited by flame or heat.
Sulfuric acid in the batteries can lead to chemical burns if it touches the bare skin. This is not a concern during normal use of the battery, but if a battery is punctured or damaged, the acid can leak or spray, potentially burning anyone who is nearby.
Disposing of lead-acid batteries incorrectly should be avoided at all costs. The sulfuric acid can either be neutralized or recycled or could be reused in new batteries. To be able to prevent the serious environmental consequences of wrong disposal, all lead-acid batteries sold or bought within the United States include a "core charge" that will only be returned if the used battery is turned in.