Cell phones contain toxins that can leak into the soil.
E-waste, also called e-waste, has become a problem of serious concern for environmentalists as an increasing number of electronic items are disposed of in landfills each year. Many consumers are not aware that electronic devices such as computers and cell phones contain toxins that can leak into the soil and cause harm to the environment. The problem is further compounded by the fact that many of the elements used in building consumer electronics are quite valuable, leading companies to try to salvage them from abandoned electronics and unsafely dispose of unwanted parts.
Cathode ray tubes must be disposed of properly.
Several countries have enacted laws on e-waste to try to keep it out of landfills or in landfills that are equipped to handle toxic materials. Heavy metals in e-waste, such as lead, cadmium and mercury, pose serious risks to the environment and health. While many consumers are trained to think of things like cathode ray tubes as dangerous goods that require special disposal, most do not connect cell phones, for example, with beryllium, a toxic heavy metal that can cause severe lung damage. In addition to the toxins it contains, e-waste also takes a long time to biodegrade, which means it will take up space in landfills for centuries.
Soil can become contaminated with heavy metals from discarded cell phones or computers.
The question of what to do with e-waste is a serious one. In the first world, many companies have started to take steps to reduce the amount of e-waste they create. Companies that make electronics are starting to take items back when they’ve lost their usefulness, so usable elements like copper can be safely removed and the rest of the electronics can be safely disposed of. However, a large part of the unwanted electronics in the First World are being shipped to the Third World.
E-waste has been linked to the development of birth defects.
Sometimes this junk mail is sent under the guise of humanitarian reasons, arguing that old technology can still help bridge the gap between the first and third worlds. Slow laptops that aren’t wanted in the US, for example, can make a big difference to someone living in Africa. However, much of this equipment actually arrives unusable and broken, and people desperate for cash try to harvest usable materials, such as valuable metals, from donated equipment. Unfortunately, most of these individuals lack training in how to handle the hazardous materials used in electronics manufacturing and expose themselves and their communities to toxic chemicals and metals.
In other cases, genuine e-waste is shipped to third world countries by shipping container load. Many companies that claim to be “recycling” e-waste are actually sending the pollution to other countries. Piles of unwanted consumer electronics accumulate by the side of the road and in third world landfills, leaching toxins into soil and groundwater that cause crop failures, birth defects and serious illness. Some environmentally responsible companies have started to speak out against this practice and are taking steps to dispose of e-waste safely, with the help of governments, which have started requiring e-waste processing fees to accompany the sale of new consumer electronics. .