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  China Lead Smelter Causes Illness in Children

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Author Topic:   China Lead Smelter Causes Illness in Children
jimh posted 03-14-2010 03:22 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
For all you folks who like to get cheap AGM batteries made in China, I wanted to mention that lead smelters in China are causing serious illness to children that live near them. A report from last fall says:

"The largest lead smelting company in China has recently admitted responsibility in contributing to pollution leading to poisoning in almost 1,000 children residing near lead factories. Out of 2,743 children tested for lead poisoning, 968 were determined to have excessive lead levels in their blood. Lead poisoning causes anemia, brain damage, and muscle atrophy, among other serious medical and environmental problems. Lead levels in blood samples from the children were 5 times higher than safe limits."

Source:
http://news.mongabay.com/2009/1017-ryking_china.html

I know everyone enjoys getting a bargain, but it seems unconscionable to buy a lead-acid battery made in China in order to save a few bucks, while the environmental pollution from the smelting of lead to make that battery may have killed children.

Consumers were sensitized to the plight of the dolphin and urged to avoid buying tuna that were caught in a manner harmful to dolphin. I'd like to sensitize you to the dangers of buying batteries made in China and the possible effect on Chinese children.

Now plans are in place to re-open smelters. Local residents say their children are still sick and there has been little done to help them. See:

http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/03/12/ pm-lead-poisoning/

Based on this background, I cannot recommend purchase of any battery made in China. I'd hate to think the $20 I saved meant some poor kid was going to be brain damaged for life.

themclos posted 03-14-2010 06:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for themclos  Send Email to themclos     
Which marine batteries are manufactured in China?
jimh posted 03-14-2010 11:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Many AGM batteries are made in China. One of the biggest difference between AGM batteries and conventional flooded cell batteries is the ability to ship them with a full charge. You can't really ship flooded cell batteries filled with acid. They're usually shipped dry and filled at the point of local distribution. AGM batteries come over from China on a boat ready to sell, as they are sealed.
number9 posted 03-15-2010 02:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for number9  Send Email to number9     
The Cabela's AGMs have been reported by some who recently purchased them to be made in China.
SC Joe posted 03-15-2010 06:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for SC Joe  Send Email to SC Joe     
The Cabela's AGM batteries are made in China...at least that's what the box it come in says. Problem is, I would have no idea that they are made in China prior to ordering one.
number9 posted 03-15-2010 06:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for number9  Send Email to number9     
I was ready to order a couple myself recently until reading about the country of origin on the THT forum.
Not a big fan of legislating just to do it but would like to see a requirement for catalog and internet sellers to identify where their products are manufactured. Don't know if required but many will say imported for clothing as Cabela's does, but not the country.
davej14 posted 03-15-2010 08:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
Optima AGM batteries are made in Mexico.
jimh posted 03-15-2010 10:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
It was not always the case that Optima batteries were made in Mexico. They used to be made in Colorado. The plant in Colorado was just closed down recently, the work moved to Mexico, and all employees furloughed. A local television station covered this story:

http://cbs4denver.com/local/Optima.Batteries.aurora.2.874937.html

davej14 posted 03-15-2010 11:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
I think this is what is meant by increasing our exports by 5X. Export of jobs that is.

Sorry about the political commentary but I couldn't resist. Feel free to delete.

jimh posted 03-16-2010 01:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Dave--I guess there is some Geo-politics in something as simple as buying a lead-acid battery these days. There was a time when you would never see something as heavy and as inexpensive as a lead-acid battery being shipped 14,000-miles to be sold.

I like to save $20 as much as (or more than) the next guy, but I am not going to buy a lead-acid battery made in China. After I heard the radio report (linked above) about the total brush-off given to this problem of lead poisoning of children near smelters in China, the dots started to connect.

Here we are in America, with enough affluence to go out in our privately owned boats for RECREATION, and we are going to buy our batteries from China--where children are being poisoned by lead smelters--so we can save $20. Oh, and by the way, we can put all the domestic battery makers out of business while we are at it. A double whammy. That is not the kind of world I want to live in.

Lead is an interesting element. It is very highly recycled. Most of the lead in a battery is probably from re-cycled lead. Now think about what that means in terms of buying a battery from China. To make a battery in China, you have to ship back the old battery from America to get recycled. Then you make a new battery in China. Then you ship it to America, That's two trips across the Pacific. How can you sell a battery at a profit when there is the cost of two trips across the Pacific ocean for each battery sold? I think the answer is you have to be able to make it dirt cheap. That's dirt cheap as in low cost of labor, no environmental costs, and no import tariffs. Once that made-in-China battery hits the west coast, we still have to truck the thing to the point of sale. In my case that is another 1,800-miles. Do you know what the freight cost is for shipping 80-lbs from Los Angeles to Detroit? It is not cheap.

number9 posted 03-16-2010 06:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for number9  Send Email to number9     
Cabela's AGM:
"Item notes
The recommended lowest temperature this battery should be exposed to is 5 degrees F. Extended exposure to lower temperatures will shorten the operational life of the battery; impact damage can occur to the case at lower temperatures. (per manufacturer)"

Finding out they are made in China, seeing their non-marine standard terminals and reading the above I came to the conclusion the batteries are not specifically designed for marine use. They are probably just off the shelf power supply batteries and not even suitable for use in any type of vehicle. What a deal.


SC Joe posted 03-16-2010 08:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for SC Joe  Send Email to SC Joe     
I recently purchased a Cablea's AGM Group 24 1100 MCA battery as I had a coupon, and they were on sale.

When it arrived, I too was surprised to see it was apparently made in China. I was also surprised by the terminal sizes. They are both the same, and are actually threaded holes rather than studs, like most batteries. Also, they are supplied with metric M6x1.5 bolts if I remember correctly--which required washers for the battery cables to properly fit.

number9 posted 03-16-2010 10:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for number9  Send Email to number9     
Remember glen e posting about using ss fender washers and getting a very good connection when he used them.
daveweight posted 03-16-2010 10:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for daveweight  Send Email to daveweight     
Has it not always been thus.
Think Bhopal
David Weight
davej14 posted 03-16-2010 12:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
Another factor in shipping batteries from overseas is that because of their weight most of the space in the shipboard container is empty.
number9 posted 03-16-2010 01:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for number9  Send Email to number9     
Thought they filled the rest of the containers with China made foam packing peanuts.
bruser posted 03-16-2010 03:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for bruser  Send Email to bruser     
This is an interesting discussion. If you search the intetrnet looking for "SKU" you can find sites that can define the location of manufacture based on that information.
You will be shocked by the number of products that are not made in the USA. The fact is that regulations and tort policies of the US force many manufacturers overseas.
The actual freight cost for shipping the batteries from china is actually quite reasonable based on the selling price.
While I do not condone destroying the environment, in China if you force the plant to close, you put the familys of the children out of work. The factories house and feed a large majority of the "worker" population in China.Many familys live on the factory grounds in apartment houses built by the government for the factory owner (factory was government built also) to help house the huge numbers of people in the country. The government mandates this as a method of taking care of the population with out welfare.

The Chinese government is active in recycling and environmental protection, just not a vocal as the US. The culture is different and the value of human life is not held as high as it is here. In the streets of Shanghi / NingBo many familys enjoy outings on scooters (cars are expensive) so it is not uncommon to see Dad, Mom and baby on a scooter made to haul 1 person, and usually the child is standing on dad's lap holding on to the handle bars.
Do that any where in the US and the parents would go to jail!
Sorry for the long rant, thing are different there and they abuse the sensibilities of westerners.

bruser posted 03-16-2010 03:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for bruser  Send Email to bruser     
I am going to edit the SKU statement after verifying the information on SNOPEs. It may provide you with the country of orgion.
Ridge Runner posted 03-16-2010 08:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for Ridge Runner  Send Email to Ridge Runner     
EnerSys, the maker of Odyssey batteries, had thier plant in Warrensburg MO. featured on History Channel.
http://www.odysseyfactory.com/flashFiles/Modern/ModernMarv.html
deepwater posted 03-17-2010 06:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for deepwater  Send Email to deepwater     
I dont recommend you buy much of anything made outside the US,,Yes it not easy and at times impossible but if you let the store mananger know you want more American Made items it does make a difference,,"YOU" can do without and or "MAKE" your own stuff
jimh posted 03-17-2010 08:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I don't try to make an argument that you must never buy anything not made in the United States. Suppose you want to buy a Honda outboard? Or a BMW automobile? These are fine products and made overseas. They're made in countries where the labor force is not exploited, where the environment is not polluted, and where the residents near the manufacturing facility are not being harmed by the process.

An interesting event occurred this week: the mainstream media began reporting that China was displaying new behavior, and China has begun a new phase in its relationship with the West. China says it is no longer willing to adopt Western thinking and ideas in some areas. Apparently, protecting children and the environment from lead poisoning and pollution are too Western for China to embrace now. I suggest you adopt an appropriate response with your choice of products you purchase.

Tom W Clark posted 03-17-2010 08:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
I have never owned a battery made by AGM.

I have no intention of buying a battery made by AGM.

My boat was made in the USA.

The motors on my boat were made in the USA.

My truck was made in the USA.

My house was made in the USA.

Does that make me righteous?

jimh posted 03-17-2010 09:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Tom--AGM is not a brand or manufacturer.
jimh posted 03-17-2010 09:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
ASIDE to Tom: Do you buy farm-raised salmon?
Tom W Clark posted 03-17-2010 10:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Jim -- my comments are still perfectly true.

I never buy salmon raised on farms in China.

Mambo Minnow posted 03-18-2010 07:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for Mambo Minnow  Send Email to Mambo Minnow     
Optima's now made in Mexico...that perhaps explains recent customer feedback I have seen saying the quality of these batteries is not what it used to be.

I have yet to buy AGMs...I just don't put the hours on my boat right now to justify twice the expense over wet cells.

Jefecinco posted 03-18-2010 08:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     
Mambo,

That you don't put many hours on your boat is a good reason to consider AGM batteries.

My experience with AGMs is that mine have never needed to be recharged between uses even when unused for almost four months. No other battery I've owned has had this characteristic and I've enjoyed not having to "top off" the batteries before using the boat.

Another feature I value as much or more than excellent charge retention is that there is never a requirement to add water to the electrolyte or clean the terminals with a baking soda/water mixture.

I would think this would make AGM batteries a better choice than wet cell batteries for boats used less frequently.

Just my opinion while recognizing your own cost benefit situation may differ.

Butch

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