Lead is a metal that is highly resistant to corrosion. But it is also toxic. Bluish-white in colour, soft, and malleable, lead is one of the first known metals, dating back approximately 5,000 years. It was once used for cable sheathing, petrol additives and soldering. But these days, in some parts of the world, the use of lead has been banned or reduced considerably. Lead has the highest recycling rate of all metals. The recycling process is based on pyrometallurgical techniques (heating and melting processes to extract heavy metal raw materials).
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Value of Scrap Lead
The value of scrap metal can change daily, depending on market price fluctuations. The value of scrap lead per kilogram depends on the quality and grade (e.g., mixed scrap lead, scrap lead battery and scrap lead plate). The value of scrap lead ranges from 30p to £1.90 per kilogram. The biggest advantage of lead metal is that it can be used long after it was manufactured.
Lead Scrap Sources
The principle source of scrap lead for recycling in the United States is lead acid batteries. A lead acid battery typically contains 40 to 60 per cent recoverable lead. Other sources of scrap lead include construction materials such as oil piping, telephone and electricity cables, printing metals and radiation shielding. Another potential source of scrap lead is the huge accumulation of e-waste from discarded electronic products.
Recycled Lead Scrap Specifications
All over the world, two specifications for recyclable lead prevail: The scrap lead must contain least 99.90 per cent lead or it must contain at least 99.97 per cent lead. Scrap lead commonly also contains impurities, including arsenic, bismuth, antimony, copper, tin, nickel, silver and zinc, and in some cases, selenium and tellurium. The limit on the content of lead impurities is 0.1 to 0.3 per cent of the total mass.
Scrap Lead Recycling
During the past 10 to 20 years, scrap lead recycling processes have changed substantially. These changes have occurred due to environmental laws, and advances and changes in technology. The major raw material used in scrap lead recycling is starter batteries from motor vehicles. The percentage of scrap from lead acid batteries is expected to increase with the increasing number of vehicles around the world.
Preventing Poisoning in Scrap Lead Recycling
Scrap lead recycling workers are at risk for lead exposure. Workers can carry lead dust into their homes on their clothing and shoes. Lead poisoning can also result from eating lead-contaminated foods. Lead is harmful to the brain and can cause cognitive deficiencies especially in infants, children and young adults. Proper ventilation and exhaust systems are important while cutting large pieces of scrap lead. Mechanical cutting devices such as power saws and shears are preferable to torch cutting.
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