I work at a battery shop where we take old car batteries and re-condition them. These batteries are dirty, oily, and signs of corrosion on posts. We then take the batteries and clean them up with Lacquer Thinner and add sulfuric acid if needed. We then knock of any remaining dirt and corrosion off with a brush. This is in a battery room where where up to 200 batteries are charging and cooling while we clean. What are the long term harmful effects of breathing battery fumes from the ones charging and corrosion from the ones we are cleaning up? We only wear rubber gloves because we are also doing other things while performing our cleaning tasks of batteries. I do get headaches from breathing the lacquer thinner already.
When batteries become wet or damp, sulfuric acid may be present in the air as small droplets or attached to other small airborne particulates (for example, dust). Sulfuric acid is extremely irritating to skin, mucous membranes (eyes, inside of the nose, throat), and to the upper airway (trachea) and to the lungs.
Inhalation of sulfuric acid droplets can cause a chemical pneumonitis (inflammation in the lungs). If someone has chemical pneumonitis, the lungs may not be able to clear other particles that are inhaled and there may be an increased risk for developing pneumonia. In addition, the sulfuric acid is irritating to the gastrointestinal tract and could cause nausea, diarrhea, and stomach pain.
Lastly, where can you find more information on this topic?
You can perform a google search and use “battery acid fumes” and “MSDS” as search terms. MSDS = Material Safety Data Sheet.
Here is a link as well:
Regarding your last comment about headaches and laquer thinner, can you describe the ventilation in the room? It is safe to say that if you are having symptoms such as headache, there is likely inadequate ventilation in the area.
Lastly, you might consider making an effort to ensure that you are using the proper personal protective equipment (gloves) given the materials that you are exposed to while you are performing the essential components of your job.
Many of the industrial glove suppliers have guides that are helpful in matching the type of glove (for example, nitrile) with the potential hazardous material.
~ Dr. Parks
This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. The information presented in this posting is for patients’ education only. As always, I encourage you to see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.
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