Nearly all metal and objects containing metal are recyclable. But there are, however, certain metals (most of which are not even accessible by common person) that are not recyclable, or not accepted at scrap metal recycling centers because they are hazardous waste. Continue reading to learn about these particular metals, and where to recycle metal in your community.
Non-Recyclable MetalsThe most common (and obvious) non-recyclable metals are Uranium and Plutonium. These are referred to as radioactive metals. Now unless you are a scientist, physicist, military engineer, or some secret government nuclear power mastermind, you are not going to ever see or come into contact with Uranium or Plutonium. But just as food for thought, they are radioactive metals that are not suitable for recycling because they are extremely detrimental to our health and environment.
There is a third metal too toxic to recycle, and that metal is Mercury. This also includes anything made with or containing Mercury. Lastly, another metal that should not be recycled is lead; like lead-acid batteries and cathode ray tubing found in television sets and computer monitors. Although most scrap metal recycling centers will accept these commodities, they will remove the toxic metal components before the salvaging process. To further understand more about Uranium, Plutonium, and Mercury, and why these metals are not safe to recycle, check out the brief descriptions of each below:
Plutonium – Plutonium starts out brightly-colored silver and gray, but quickly changes to duller colors, even greens and yellows, when exposed to oxygen. It has a high boiling point and is a good conductor of electricity, but a poor conductor of heat. It is brittle and hard, but can be more malleable if combined with another metal. Human exposure to plutonium, for instance through inhalation, can cause genetic impairment, radiation poisoning, lung cancer, and death.
Uranium – Uranium is a heavy and dense metal that is named after the seventh planet from the sun, Uranus. It naturally occurs in rocks and oceans. It was first discovered in a mineral called pitchblende in 1789 by a German chemist named Martin Klaproth. The slow, radioactive decay of Uranium is what heats the Earth’s core, making it an abundant source of concentrated energy. It causes convection and continental drift too. It is found in familiar commodities like yacht keels and airplane counterweights, but it is also used for radiation shielding.Mercury– You may recognize Mercury better by its nickname, Quicksilver. It is the only metal that is a liquid at standard pressure and temperature conditions (with the exception or Bromine), and has the lowest boiling point. Like Plutonium, it is a good conductor of electricity, but poor conductor of heat. A person can get mercury poisoning from eating seafood contaminated with traces of mercury, inhaling Mercury vapors, or exposing themselves to water-soluble forms of Mercury, like Methyl-mercury or mercuric chloride. Familiar commodities that use mercury include thermometers, barometers, and fluorescent lights.
Lead– As the heaviest non-radioactive metal, Lead is soft, malleable, and appears as a bluish-white color until exposed to air. It then turns to a dull gray-like color. It is mainly used in today’s society for building construction, lead acid batteries, ammunition, and as a shield for radiation (just like Uranium). Lead is a neurotoxin, poisonous to both humans and animals if ever ingested or inhaled. It can cause brain disorders, blood disorders, and nervous system damages.
To learn which metals can be recycled, contact your local scrap metal recycling center. They will have all the information you need regarding metal recycling and more.