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Hi there everyone,

I hope someone here is able to point me in the right direction.

I own a Hyundai i10 (but that's not really relevant here).

I transported 2 older car batteries in the trunk. They leaked. I panicked, and put the batteries (that were dry) in my basement until I knew what to do with them. I forgot they were there.

(I know, I'm an idiot).

The leakage in the car is taken care of (by the insurance company). But since the batteries were discharged, the acid did not leave marks and I didn't itch from touching it. It smelled, though (although not of sulfur. A hint of vinegar).

I disposed of them a few weeks ago.

But while I can't see any damage to the floor in the basement, my basement smells. It smells sweet, like chocolate.

Yesterday I dusted off the old Christmas decorations (+ plastic tree and stuff) and we decorated our place. They were located in my basement, 5-10 ft from the batteries.

But some of the ornaments smells a bit like chocolate too.

The ornaments have not touched any battery acid.

Now, I'm wondering:

Is this sweet smell from the ornaments dangerous to be around when it's not coming from a direct leak?

The acid has clearly not touched the ornaments - but they still smell a bit (not a lot) when you stick your nose in them. Is this bad to be around?

I hope someone here can point me in the right direction, although I don't expect anyone to have been as stupid as me.

Thank you so much in advance!
 

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Battery acid doesn't smell at all like chocolate in my experience, but the best way to neutralize battery acid is a paste or slurry made of baking soda and water, followed with a rinse of plain water. I would look for another source of the smell. I don't think the now disposed of batteries are any danger to you now. Especially since it's not a food item or anything that is played with by the kiddies. Good luck and in the future, if you transport flooded lead acid batteries again, a box lined with a plastic garbage bag will catch any spills and not muck up your car. A plastic bucket is good too, if the battery fits in the upright position. Sealed batteries won't leak if the case isn't damaged, FYI. cheers.
 

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A bit easier and less messy method of neutralizing the acid is to use some ammonia cleaner. But like you said if the batteries were completely discharged then the acid is not there for the most part as it has been converted to a form of lead sulfate. A dead battery electrolyte is mostly water. But there would be some lead sulfate dissolved in it.

Lead has a sweet taste but no fragrance. Any acid would have eaten away at the concrete.
 

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To be blunt. Dont use ornaments with lead on them. Spend the money. Buy new ornaments. Lead though less of an issue for adults is very much an issue for those who truly enjoy ornaments. Kids. Generally, Pb is considered unsafe at any level for children.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you all for your responses :)

In addition to your help, I called a "poison and environmental damage" hotline and a doctor did some research and got back to me.

So for your information, she didn't think there would be any risk with the ornaments, as they have not been in contact with the leak besides being in the same room (no spills on them).

I hope this can help someone else!
 
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