Lead exposure from battery recycling in Indonesia

Rev Environ Health. 2016 Mar;31(1):13-6. doi: 10.1515/reveh-2015-0036.


In Indonesia, more than 200 illegal used lead acid battery (ULAB) smelters are currently operating. Only a few health studies support the finding of lead-related symptoms and diseases among populations living near the smelters. To assess the blood lead levels (BLLs) and potential health impacts among the population surrounding ULAB recycling smelters, we evaluated health effects reported from 2003 to 2013, conducted focus group discussions with lead smelter owner/workers and a group of 35 female partners of smelter owners or workers not actively engaged in smelter work, and retook and measured BLLs. It was found that many children in the areas were having difficulty achieving high grades at school and having stunting or other problems with physical development. The average mean of BLLs increased by almost double in 2015, compared with in 2011. The risk of having hypertension, interference in the ability to make red blood cells in females occurred among 24% of respondents; Elevated blood pressure, hearing loss, and interference in the ability to make red bloods cell occurred in 20% of males; Kidney damage, infertility in male, nerve problems, including decreased sensation and decreased ability to move quickly occurred in 13%; Decreased ability to make red blood cells (20%), and; Frank anemia, decreased life-span, coma/seizures were experienced by 22%. The populations living in areas surrounding ULAB smelters are experiencing severe chronic health problems. It is recommended that the smelters must be moved and placed far away from the municipality.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indonesia / epidemiology
  • Lead / toxicity*
  • Lead Poisoning / epidemiology*
  • Lead Poisoning / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Public Health
  • Recycling
  • Young Adult


  • Lead