While the hot topic, at present, for many is the iPhone 5, I want to discuss something completely different. Have you ever heard the term e-waste? It refers to the electronic devices we own, and the chemical compounds, which they contain. Disposing of e-waste in landfills has the potential to cause severe human and environmental health impacts.
When you discard an electronic device to your local recycling facility or trash authority, it does not get reduced to a proper level, whereby the device is no longer a threat. These are some of the compounds found in most electronic devices you use everyday; arsenic, barium, beryllium, Brominated flame retardants (BFRs), cadmium, chromium, CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons), dioxins, lead, lithium, mercury, Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and selenium. All of the aforementioned compounds and elements are insalubrious and known teratogens. While some naturally occurring substances are harmless in nature, their use in the manufacture of electronic equipment often results in compounds, which are hazardous (e.g. chromium becomes chromium VI).
Wherever you live, there are local facilities and programs involved in the complete recycling process, which would render all of the hazardous materials benign. One such program can be found at your local Whole Foods. Their program discards all forms of devices, including one of the largest offenders- disposable batteries. But this is only an example of one program. I urge you to seek out local e-waste programs and dump your discarded electronics on them. Remember, this stuff will be here long after we’re gone. A special note: one of the most severe toxins you can ever come in contact with is Toner Dust, from the cartridges of laser printers. Be careful when handling these and wear a mask so you don’t inhale this toxin- think asbestos.
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