Posted: Dec 21, 2011 11:37 PM
Updated: Dec 22, 2011 8:01 AM
WESLACO - You might not think twice about that old car battery you take in to the car shop when you need a new one. CHANNEL 5 NEWS learned more of them are going to Mexico.
Carlos Escobar owns an automotive shop in Weslaco. He tells us inside the battery there's lead; that lead is dangerous.
"If you get it on your clothes, you will have a hole in your pants real quick," Escobar explained.
Escobar's customers bring in up to 50 old car batteries a day to his automotive shop in Weslaco. He says the government requires him to take old batteries from his customers when he sells the new ones. Escobar sends them to the manufacturer in San Antonio. That company recycles the batteries in the United States. They have to follow strict environmental protection agency standards. The batteries are sealed and recycled in places that look like labs.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS learned 20 percent of the car batteries turned in across the country are going to Mexico. Last year, it was six percent. The EPA is making it tougher for companies to recycle in the United States.
The standards are not as strict in Mexico. Workers in Mexico break the batteries and release about 40 pounds of lead into the air.
Officials say it can cause high blood pressure, kidney damage, stomach pain and serious neurological problems in children. People can even die. It can also contaminate nearby orchards and fruit stands.
The EPA says it does not inspect, monitor or verify the Mexican facilities.
Escobar says he's sure the batteries he collects are not going to Mexico. He's not sure other shop owners aren't sending their batteries legally across the border.