When it comes to disposing of our unwanted or used electronics do we really know where they go and how hazardous they can be to our environment? There are many toxic materials within our electronic devices, take a cell phone as an example which has over 500 components. Many of these contain toxic metals such as mercury, lead, beryllium, and cadmium.
Touchscreen cell phones contain indium oxide and tin oxide which is used in a clear film on the screen. This mixture conducts electricity and allows the screen to function as a touchscreen. Most of the glass used in smartphones is an aluminosilicate glass, made from a mix of alumina and silica, along with some potassium ions for strength. As mentioned above, mercury is found in cell phones and is used for LCD screens. Mercury is possibly one of the most toxic chemicals to dispose of as it can contaminate the earth, water, and air if it is not disposed of correctly. The battery in a phone also contains carbon, mercury, cadmium and lithium cobalt oxide.
Due to such hazardous chemicals, proper disposal is crucial to ensuring the health of our environment. Circuit boards and microchips that are found in phones, computers, and laptops contain lead and arsenic which are poisonous to living organisms in large amounts. While these are safely inside your phone when you are using it, once it ends up in a landfill the lead and arsenic leak into the soil, causing damage to our ecosystem.
All of these hazardous substances can cause serious health risks and impact our environment through many types of pollution; air, water, and soil pollution being the main three.
To save our environment and to ensure our health isn’t at risk, we should dispose of our electronic devices correctly and carefully. Some ways to do this is as follows:
• Hand them down to a friend or member of the family.
• Recycle them once they reach the end of life.
• Donate them to a local charity.
• Give them to an organization who will ensure your data is wiped and your device finds a new home.
If you have any questions in regards to disposing of your unwanted or used electronics, please contact [email protected] or visit www.era.ca for more information. Let’s all create a cleaner and safer environment for the future!