Environmental Concerns Regarding Electric Forklift Batteries
Electric forklifts are generally safer and more stable compared to gas and diesel powered lift trucks. Diesel and gasoline engines emit toxic exhaust and pose a risk of fire. Nevertheless, electric forklifts could be hazardous, also. They have rechargeable batteries as their source of power, and batteries can present risks to personal safety as well as to the natural environment. There are hazards connected with the use, manufacture, storage and disposal of rechargeable batteries for lift trucks.
The lift truck battery consists of lead plates being placed in a solution of sulfuric acid, that are called lead-acid rechargeable batteries. Lead is a toxin that, when used in manufacturing processes, poses hazards to water quality because of runoff and drainage. When lead enters a water system it can cause various kinds of health issues to people and could even result in death. The sulfuric acid used in lift truck batteries is detrimental to skin and could cause severe burns. Sulfuric acid also produces harmful fumes which could cause damage to the environment 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 lift truck, flames, heat, sparks and smoking must be kept well away from the recharging place. The combustible hydrogen could lead to an explosion if ignited by heat or flame.
Sulfuric acid in the batteries could result in chemical burns if it comes into contact with bare skin. This is not a concern during normal use of the battery, but if a battery is punctured or damaged, the acid could leak or spray, potentially burning anyone who is nearby.
Incorrect disposal of lead-acid batteries must always be avoided. These batteries should be recycled properly or reused in new batteries so that the sulfuric acid could either be recycled or neutralized. In order to avoid the serious environmental consequences of improper disposal, all lead-acid batteries purchased or sold in the United States include a "core charge" which would only be returned if the used battery is turned in.