Whether your batteries are ending up in landfills or incinerators, the mercury and other toxic heavy metals they contain (nickel cadmium, alkaline, nickel metal hydride and lead acid, to name a few) could be leaking into the environment  and ending up in someone’s food. That’s bad news for people and animals alike. You’ve heard the hype about dangerously high levels of mercury in tuna (the NRDC now recommends that a person weighing 140lb eats no more than one can of white albacore tuna every 10 days). Fortunately, the Battery Act was signed into law in 1996, and the EPA has since been taking steps to phase out the use of mercury in batteries, and to provide ways for consumers to properly collect, recycle, and dispose of their used batteries.

The EPA needs your help to make it happen, though, so this week, consider taking a minute to learn about the kinds of batteries available to you, how to make them last as long as possible, and where to chuck ‘em when they’ve stopped going and going and going. One of the best resources we’ve found is a battery-education page on Earth911's website, which will point you toward the disposal sites closest to your home, and maybe even get you pumped to keep heavy metal confined to that very special sector in the music industry, where it belongs, and out of lakes and landfills.

Also check out the Battery Council, the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation, and the EPA’s section on batteries.

This article originally appeared in Plenty in May 2007. The story was added to MNN.com in July 2009.

Copyright Environ Press 2007.

Toxic metals keep going and going, too
Heavy, harmful substances in batteries that get tossed in the trash can seep out and eventually end up in human and animal food.