Ask a Question forum: Battery acid spilled all over soil/grass.

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Joshcw
Sep 3, 2016 7:22 AM CST
Hi about a week ago my scooter fell over on the grass & it the battery leaked acid everywhere all over the ground & now the grass is dead anywhere near where it spilled. I have pet dogs & sometimes my little nephew comes over & plays outside near the area where it spilled. What is the best way to go about making it safe again? Not sure if baking soda would soak into the ground & neutralize all of the acid since it's been a week.
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
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porkpal
Sep 3, 2016 7:55 AM CST
It would do no harm to soak it with baking soda. You can use aquarium test strips to check the acidity. I think the soda would eventually neutralize it.
Porkpal
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Sep 3, 2016 8:10 AM CST
The soil should be dug up, bagged and discarded in the trash.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Sep 3, 2016 11:28 AM CST
I agree with Greene. You are dealing with sulfuric acid - it will melt the soles off your shoes! If the spill was on the driveway, the baking soda would be a good solution but not this time.
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
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Leftwood
Sep 3, 2016 2:40 PM CST
Sulfuric acid in tiny quantities is a normal component in most soils. If it were me, I would just dig the area, make sure the soil is crumble to tiny bits, and fling it out over the rest of the yard. But, if you would feel better throwing the dirt out, that would be fine.

Baking soda would add sodium to the soil, much like table salt does. (Want to kill a plant? Just add table salt.) With baking soda, you could be replacing the sulfuric acid with yet another problem. A salty soil is more difficult to deal with than any acid.
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Sep 3, 2016 8:19 PM CST
Just flush it thoroughly with a hose.
When I studied auto mechanics and we spilled acid on our cover-alls we quickly flushed it with water.
Nine times out of ten it did not damage the cloth, just uncomfortable wearing wet clothes.
It is a liquid that is diluted by a liquid including morning dew; after a week even if you dug up the dirt and rubbed it on your skin not much would happen.
Battery acid has only 4 moles of acid per liter of water; most concentrated acid used in labs is approx. 17 moles per liter.
[Last edited by RpR - Sep 3, 2016 8:23 PM (+)]
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Joshcw
Sep 4, 2016 11:58 AM CST
Thank you everyone for all the helpful replies, could adding lime to the soil neutralize the spilled battery acid? I'll dig the ground up if I have to but just wanting to see if I can neutralize the soil/spill first. Also I haven't messed with my scooter since it fell over & got battery acid all over it also, what do you guys think would be the safest way to clean the scooter?
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Sep 4, 2016 12:11 PM CST
Definitely use a solution of baking soda and lots of water on the scooter; we rinse battery acid spills with it routinely. I hope it has not already eaten any important parts.
Porkpal
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Sep 5, 2016 7:05 PM CST
Joshcw said:Thank you everyone for all the helpful replies, could adding lime to the soil neutralize the spilled battery acid?

Anything without water will do NOTHING, just flush it.

Flush your scooter with baking soda in water NOW, then flush it off well with plain water.
Then treat bare metal areas with rust prevention products.
Any major damage is already done but not doing anything is making it worse.

I had a battery explode under my hood approx. twenty years ago and put a heavy solution of water with baking soda in the worst areas, flushed it with water then took it to the car wash to power wash the engine.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Sep 6, 2016 6:46 PM CST
I would be careful about lead having gotten into that soil. Lead-acid batteries work by lead dissolving into the acid (releasing electrons). When you recharge the battery, some of that lead precipitates back onto the electrodes.

But there is always some lead in the acid.

You really, really do not want to eat anything that has absorbed much lead. Ask the people in Flint Michigan! lead is truly "toxic" toxic, not "I don't like to use chemicals" toxic.

I would send the soil to some landfill rather than wonder about residual lead levels.

But if you limit your concern to the acidity of the sulfuric acid, lime plus weeks of rain would reduce that acidity.

Personally, I don't worry about some toxin that will TELL me if I'm exposed to an effective concentration. Sulfuric acid will either dissolve my shoe-soles or not, and burn my skin and lungs or not. If not, I'm not worried. If it does, I will know exactly how much damage was done. The pain is a clear indicator of exposure! No worries, mate!)

But lead is a persistent, cumulative nerve toxin. It will damage my brain and nerves and maybe some enzymes subtly or seriously, and I might not know until years later. I could absorb a few micrograms (or, God forbid, milligrams) per year if any vegetables grew near that patch or dust blew up from it. THAT, I worry about!

P.S. When you sell the place, in theory you're required by law in most states to reveal anything you know about toxic chemical spills. How much nicer to be able to say "But I dug up all that soil and sent it to the landfill one gallon at a time ".
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Sep 6, 2016 8:24 PM CST
RickCorey said:

You really, really do not want to eat anything that has absorbed much lead.

I would send the soil to some landfill rather than wonder about residual lead levels.

LOL, on lead content and dealing with government rules.
My mother had a gov. paid, if she stayed in the house, house improvement.

One thing as the house is full of lead paint was they tested the soil around the house for lead.
They found one patch, three by four more or less, by the porch, where I imagine due to scraping and sanding I had done approx. ten years before.
The odd thing, and the rules are just plain odd, was they did not test the flower gardent right below the porch windows at all.
They legally had to dig it up and move it.
I asked what they would do with it, and they said haul it away unless I had a place x feet from the house they could put it.
I was working the rose garden over big time and I said put it in the rose garden. They said thanks as that made it a lot easier for them.
The rose garden is less than six feet from the vegetable garden.
That lead in the lawn never could ever do harm, yet they legally put it where by the paranoid experts today it was technically closer to where it might cause harm if I went out there and ate dirt balls. Whistling Blinking

[Last edited by RpR - Sep 6, 2016 8:31 PM (+)]
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