Environmental Science/Battery

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Question
Hi- I opened up the battery compartment to an old radio/mini TV device, and the batteries had leaked what looked like white crusty salt.  The device has been in the closet for years - could we have been breathing anything unhealthy all of this time?  Also, upon opening the battery compartment, I don't think that any of the little white crystals dropped onto the floor or my clothing - but would be a concern if they did and I didn't see it?  Lastly, should I throw out the whole device or bring it somewhere to have it cleaned?  (Of these questions, my biggest concerns pertain to any possible health risks from the substance or having opened the compartment.)

Thank you!

Answer
What you probably had was an encounter with some type of crystallized acid. No, it's not harmful in those quantities and concentrations. Chances are, that if you are careful, you can clean it with a damp rag, just to remove the acid crystals.  Then throw the rag out.
Don't worry about the health risk. If you are concerned, however, write to the manufacturer for their opinion.
Wishing you well.
Dave

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David L. Russell, PE

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I`m a Chemical,Civil and Environmental Engineer and have a number of projects in all phases of the environment. I have worked in the chemical industry and am active in professional societies, and am currently on an industrial wastes committee for the Water Environment Federation, and have taught courses in remediation in the US and abroad. I have written one book on Remediation of petroleum Contaminated Sites, and have a second book on PRACTICAL WASTEWATER TREATMENT to be published by John Wiley in September, 2006. I've also written over 30 articles on various elements of environmental problems and cleanup. Most Recently, I have addressed a NATO Scientific and Techical Conference on Ecoterrorism, and have worked with the same group on remediation of sites contaminated with Chemical Warfare Agent materials and othe materials as well. . I can answer q`s about Chemical and Environmental Engineering, land development, air pollution, water pollution, soil and water cleanup, combustion, international environmental problems, industrial processes chemical processes. Civil and Environmental and Chemical Engineering. Overall, I have over 35 years of experience in this area. Note: I do not answer homework questions

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I love work in the third world and developing areas because it is challenging and one can get a sense of accomplishment.

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