Numerous electronic gadgets, including PCs, laptops, DVDs, MP3 players, printers, mobile phones, washing machines, home appliances, televisions and other equipments, are bought and sold every day. Although most of them constitute an indispensable part of our everyday lives, their hazardous effects on the environment and health cannot be overlooked. Initially, they tend to pose a threat to the health of human beings when they are being used. Once these electronic equipments become obsolete, they are dumped into the landfills, making them hazardous for the environment as well. Given below is complete information about the environmental hazards of electronic waste.
E-Waste Environmental Hazards
- The metallic parts of obsolete computers are considered hazardous for the environment, as they contain poisonous chemicals.
- Old models of televisions and computer monitors, which are very bulky, contain at least 5 pounds of a poisonous metal - lead.
- According to a recent study, dumping of consumer electronics contributes to approximately 40 percent of the lead in landfills.
- Lead is also found in the Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs) of computer and television monitors. The metal causes damage to the nervous system.
- Mercury, a hazardous metal used in the flat-panel display screens, is found to be a neurotoxin. The harmful metal is absorbed by the human body through contaminated drinking water. High levels of metallic mercury damages the nervous system and the developing fetus. It is hard to get rid of mercury, once it is released in the environment.
- Circuit boards and batteries contain cadmium, which is known to be a carcinogen - directly involved in the promotion of various types of cancer.
- Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), a synthetic polymer used for the insulation of wires and cables of electronic equipments, gives rise to the emission of chlorinated dioxins and furans, when it is disposed.
- Cadmium and mercury, found in the monitors of obsolete desktop PCs, leach into the ground water, thereby contaminating it.
- Researchers have found that improper disposal of e-waste will affect the quality of ground water in the next 10-20 years.
- According to an estimate, the future generations will find it difficult to obtain clear water supply, due to the improper methods adopted for disposal of electronic waste.
- Rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries, found in laptop computers, are one of the major contributors of electronic waste. Cadmium is hazardous for the environment due to its chronic toxic property.