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Scientific Investigations Report 2007–5198

Flow of Cadmium from Rechargeable Batteries in the United States, 1996-2007

By David R. Wilburn

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Abstract

Cadmium metal has been found to be toxic to humans and the environment under certain conditions; therefore, a thorough understanding of the use and disposal of the metal is warranted. Most of the cadmium used in the United States comes from imported products. In 2007, more than 83 percent of the cadmium used in the United States was contained in batteries, mostly in rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries used in popular consumer products such as cordless phones and power tools. The flow of cadmium contained in rechageable nickel-cadmium batteries used in the United States was tracked for the years 1996 to 2007. The amount of cadmium metal contained in imported products in 2007 was estimated to be about 1,900 metric tons, or about 160 percent higher than the reported cadmium production in the United States from all primary and secondary sources. Although more than 40,000 metric tons of cadmium was estimated to be contained in nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries that became obsolete during the 12-year study period, not all of this material was sent to municipal solid waste landfills. About 27 percent of the material available for recovery in the United States was recycled domestically in 2007; the balance was discarded in municipal solid waste landfills, exported for recycling, retained in temporary storage, or thrown away.

Posted December 10, 2007

Version 2.0

Revised and reposted September 21, 2009
(Supersedes previous version)

For additional information, contact:

David Wilburn
Denver Federal Center
Box 25046
Denver, CO 80225-0046

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Suggested citation:

Wilburn, D.R., 2007, Flow of cadmium from rechargeable batteries in the United States, 1996-2007: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2007–5198, 26 p., available at http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2007/5198/.



Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Contribution of the NiCd Battery Sector to the Rechargeable Battery Industry in the United States

Study Methodology

Analysis of the Data

    Total Consumption

    Recycling

Summary

References Cited

Appendix


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