Don’t Trash It

Below is our first entry from a guest author. Matthew McClain has been with Phoneraiser for about a year and a half. He is the Operations Manager and oversees all of the operations of the company. He also happens to have a knack for writing.

Before I started working at Phoneraiser, I had no idea what cell phones were made of. Surprisingly, each cell phone contains no less than eight toxic properties. With more than half a billion retired cell phones in junk drawers across America, the impact on the environment could be devastating. The EPA website (www.epa.gov) provides some great information on electronics recycling. Here are a few of the highlights:

Cadmiumfound in chip resistors, infrared detectors, and semiconductors
Cadmium can accumulate in,and negatively impact, the kidneys. Cadmium is persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic. The principal exposure pathway is through respiration and through our food.

Leadfound in glass panels in computer monitors and in lead soldering of printed circuit boards
Lead can cause damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems, blood systems, and kidneys in humans. Lead has also been shown to have negative effects on the development of childrens’ brains. Lead can accumulate in the environment and have a detrimental effect on plants, animals, and humans. Consumer electronics may be responsible for 40% of the lead found in landfills. The principal pathway of concern is lead leaching from landfills and contaminating drinking water supplies.

Mercuryfound in thermostats, position sensors, relays and switches (e.g., on printed circuit boards), discharge lamps, and batteries. It is also used in medical equipment, data transmission, telecommunications, and mobile phones.
When mercury makes its way into waterways, it is transformed into methylated mercury in the sediments. Methylated mercury accumulates in living organisms and travels up the food chain. Methylated mercury can cause brain damage. The principal exposure pathway is through our food.

Hexavalent Chromium or Chromium VIcan be used to protect against corrosion of untreated and galvanized steel plates
Chromium VI can damage DNA and has been linked to asthmatic bronchitis. The major pathways are through landfill leachate or from fly ash generated when materials containing Chromium VI are incinerated.

Brominated Flame Retardantsfound on printed circuit boards, components such as plastic covers and cables as well as plastic covers of televisions
Although less is known about BFRs than some other contaminants of concern, but research has shown that one of these flame retardants, Polybrominated Diphenylethers (PDBE) might act and an endocrine disrupter. Flame retardant (Polybrominated Biphenyls (PBB) may increase cancer risk to digestive and lymph systems. Once released into the environment through landfill leachate and incineration they are concentrated in the food chain.

 

 

 

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