Lead oxide is made from refined lead. The oxide is then made into a paste by mixing it with water, acid, and other chemicals. In a process parallel to the production of paste, grids are cast from lead alloy. The paste and grids are later combined in the pasting process.
During the pasting process, lead oxide paste is applied to the grid panels in a pasting machine to fill the spaces of the grid. The major source of lead exposure in the pasting process comes from lead oxide in the paste which can become easily airborne once it dries.Workers may be exposed to lead dust during pasting and take-off operations. Contaminated gloves, clothing, tools, and equipment may also be a source of lead exposure.
Hydro setting methods vary between battery plants, ranging from placing the pasted plate racks in the workroom to placing the racks within a temperature- and humidity-controlled room or chamber. The major source of lead exposure in the hydro setting process comes from lead oxide when the grids are handled incorrectly.
Grids are commonly produced and pasted as pairs called pasted plates or panels. They must be separated before the battery can be built. The major source of lead exposure in the parting process comes as a result of the grids being handled incorrectly, such as resting them against the body or handling them in unventilated areas, which causes particles to become airborne when plates are cut or broken.
Enveloping and Wrapping
Enveloping involves placing a plate (usually positive), either automatically or manually, within porous membranes. The major sources of exposure in this process result from lead oxide being released when the plates are handled incorrectly, such as resting them against the body or handling them in unventilated areas.
Handling and Transport
Handling and transporting of materials is an essential part of the battery manufacturing process. Materials are primarily transported through the use of mobile equipment (forklifts). Proper operator training, prudent work practices, and good housekeeping are key in minimizing lead emissions during mobile equipment operation. Conversely, careless equipment operation coupled with inadequate housekeeping can lead to serious lead exposure throughout the plant.
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