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California’s DTSC removes lead-acid batteries from its toxic watch list

Wed, 05/19/2021 - 08:14 -- Paul Crompton
oger Miksad, executive vice president of BCI,

Lead-acid batteries have been removed from a list of priority products and chemicals under review for potential regulation in the US.

The California's Department of Toxic Substances Control’s (DTSC) ‘2021-23 Priority Product Work Plan’ document omits the batteries for the first time since 2018.

The plan is released every three years under the organisation’s Safer Consumer Products Program (SCPP).

A technical document summarising the information DTSC’s relied on to make its decision is due to be published later this year.

The Battery Council International (BCI) welcomed the news.

A BCI statement said the DTSC’s decision to refrain from listing lead batteries as a “Priority Product” in the SCPP sent an important signal to the energy marketplace.

The organisation hopes the decision will encourage continued investment in lead batteries. 

Roger Miksad, executive vice president of BCI, said: “This outcome is the right one and recognises that lead batteries are critical to meeting America’s energy storage needs and are already well-regulated. 

“The industry’s highly successful closed-loop recycling system and investment in new technologies and innovations also means that lead batteries hold the promise of delivering safe, sustainable energy storage in the future.” 

The agency's decision reflects an evaluation of potential life cycle impacts, current regulations and ongoing product innovation in the lead battery industry.

Lead batteries were placed on the 2018-2020 Priority Product Work Plan, in part, because of lead contamination concerns surrounding the closed Exide battery recycling facility in California.

The report noted: “Based on the findings of our work, we concluded that listing lead-acid batteries as a priority product is not likely to further enhance protection to human health, given that billions of dollars are already being invested worldwide in researching new, safer battery technologies.” 

The SCPP Program will hold a public workshop on lead-acid batteries this summer. 

DTSC will provide short summaries of the ongoing work of the Lead-Acid Battery Recycling Facility Investigation and Cleanup (LABRIC) Program and the Lithium-Ion Car Battery Recycling Advisory Group as context for its decision. 

A BCI statement read: “Lead batteries are a proven technology powering motor vehicles, cargo handling equipment, medical devices, telecommunications infrastructure, microgrids and many other applications across California in a safe, reliable, cost effective and sustainable manner. 

“Ongoing improvements in design and performance position lead batteries as a cornerstone energy storage technology to enable greater utilization of renewable energy resources and 24/7 reliability for residential properties and commercial buildings.”

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