Over 6,000 illegal used lead-acid battery recycling operations are running across the country, leaving an adverse impact on public health and environment, according to a new report.
The report was discussed at a capacity building workshop that took place in the capital's Lalmatia on Wednesday, organised by the Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO) in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme and the International Lead Association (ILA) in Dhaka.
Syed Marghub Murshed, chairperson of ESDO, along with Brian Wilson, consultant of the ILA, inaugurated the workshop.
Speakers at the workshop, citing the study prepared by ESDO, urged the authorities concerned to immediately implement an environmentally-sound used lead-acid battery recycling management to put an end to the current unhealthy practices.
As per the report, over 6,000 illegal used lead-acid battery recycling operations across the country are significantly exposing people to lead contamination.
Some 270 locations have been identified and assessed by experts from Pure Earth and the Department of Geology at the University of Dhaka, revealing high concentrations of lead in the surroundings, said the report.
Referring to a 2020 study of icddr,b, the speakers at the workshop said almost half of the industry's lead supply is sourced from used lead-acid batteries that are recycled by informal small enterprises.
Speaking on the occasion, Francesca Cenni, programme officer of the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, said that Bangladesh needed to handle its informal recycling sector in an environmentally-sound management system or else that could create havoc for the recycler as well as for the whole population.
ESDO Executive Director Siddika Sultana said, "According to WHO, there is no safe level of lead exposure in human body and ESDO is urging government for an environmentally safe management in the recycling of used lead-acid batteries in both informal and formal sectors in Bangladesh, in turn it will reduce child labour in this sector because young children are at greatest risk to Lead poisoning as it causes irreversible neurological damage."
Nicoline Lavanchy, project development analyst, UN Environment Programme; Minjoon Kim, health specialist, UNICEF Bangladesh; Dr Md Mahbubur Rahman, project coordinator, Environmental Intervention Unit, icddr,b; and Dr Shahriar Hossain, secretary general, ESDO; were present at the event.
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