Lead-Acid Batteries and EPCRA Reporting


EPCRA Sections 302, 304, 311 & 312

Industrial lead-acid batteries, such as those used in forklifts, do NOT meet the OSHA definition of an "article" (US EPA, Oct. 1998).  Therefore, the lead and acid that compose these batteries must be included when determining the various thresholds for these EPCRA section regulations.

The acid in lead-acid batteries is Sulfuric Acid, which is an Extremely Hazardous Substance (EHS).  The following table outlines the applicable EPCRA Sections and their respective thresholds for Sulfuric Acid:

EPCRA Sections Thresholds
302 - Emergency Planning Notification TPQ > 1,000 lbs.
304 - Emergency Release Notification RQ > 1,000 lbs.
311 - MSDS Reporting TPQ > 500 lbs.
312 - Chemical Inventory Reporting (i.e. Tier II) TPQ > 500 lbs.


The lead used in lead-acid batteries does not qualify for any OSHA or EPCRA exemptions.  Lead is not an EHS, and the following table outlines the applicable EPCRA Sections and their respective thresholds for lead:

EPCRA Sections Thresholds
311 - MSDS Reporting TPQ > 10,000 lbs.
312 - Chemical Inventory Reporting (i.e. Tier II) TPQ > 10,000 lbs.


The definitive letter on the topic of lead-acid batteries and EPCRA (Sections 302, 304, 311 &312) reporting was written by the U.S. EPA in October, 1998, and it is used by OSHA and the U.S. EPA as the authoritative document in concluding that lead-acid batteries do not warrant exemption status as articles (OSHA), and that the lead and acid must be included when calculating EPCRA thresholds (U.S. EPA).


EPCRA Section 313

The reporting of lead and sulfuric acid (and their releases) in lead-acid batteries used in cars, trucks, most cranes, forklifts, locomotive engines, and aircraft for the purposes of EPCRA Section 313 is not required.  Lead-acid batteries used for these purposes are exempt for Section 313 reporting per the "Motor Vehicle Exemption."  See page B-22 of the U.S. EPA Guidance Document for Lead and Lead Compound Reporting under EPCRA Section 313 for additional information of this exemption.

Lead-acid batteries used for other purposes that are not covered under the Motor Vehicle Exemption may or may not be subject to the "Article Exemption."  Sulfuric acid in lead-acid batteries NEVER meets the requirements for the Article Exemption.  Lead, however, can be subject to the Article Exemption only if the following is true:

If you determine that the lead in the batteries is not subject to the Article Exemption, then lead and sulfuric acid are subject to EPCRA Section 313 requirements and reporting.  The following table outlines in general the reporting thresholds for EPCRA Section 313:

Chemical Reporting Thresholds
Lead (a PBT chemical - 40 CFR 372.25(h)) Reporting Threshold > 100 lbs.1
Sulfuric Acid Reporting Threshold > 10,000 lbs.

1 See page 1-6 of the U.S. EPA Guidance Document for Lead and Lead Compound Reporting under EPCRA Section 313 for additional information of this reporting threshold.

Since both the lead and sulfuric acid in lead-acid batteries are "otherwise used," the total weights of each much be used in calculating the reportable quantities.  If the total weight of all the lead in the lead-acid batteries exceeds 100 lbs., then lead is subject to EPCRA Section 313 reporting requirements.  Similarly, if the total weight of all the sulfuric acid in the lead-acid batteries exceeds 10,000 lbs., then sulfuric acid is also subject to EPCRA Section 313 reporting requirements.

For more information and guidance on lead reporting ONLY, review the U.S. EPA Guidance Document for Lead and Lead Compound Reporting under EPCRA Section 313.

Last Updated:  09/10/2002