Phones, game consoles, TVs, DVDs, laptops, tablets—you name it. These are considered electronic waste, or e-waste, the second they are tossed idly in the garbage. An estimated 40 million tons of e-waste is created annually with only a shocking 13% being recycled. The as new gadgets and electronic products are created, the old become outdated and get thrown into landfills.
Let’s put this into perspective. 40 million tons of e-waste is equivalent to the weight of about 400 aircraft carriers. Imagine that being shoved into landfills across America. This number is steadily increasing, making recycling e waste more and more important.
Top Reasons Why Recycling E-Waste is Important to the Environment
When garbage is sent to a landfill, it is often burned to decrease mass. So when a laptop is burned in an incinerator, the tiny particles of its contents are released into the atmosphere where it can then be breathed in, causing serious health risks like pulmonary and heart disease. Recycling e-waste is the proper way of disposing these items to remove a dangerous health threat from our environment.
Want to know what’s causing these health threats? The list goes on and on: lithium, barium, mercury, cadmium, polybrominated flame retardants, and polyvinyl chloride just to name a few. These chemicals seep into our soil and water supplies, poisoning us from the inside out.
Lethal materials like these shouldn’t be consumed whatsoever. When they are burned, they leech into the soil, poisoning the plants that livestock eat, the water that grows the crops, and our drinking water.
How These Toxins Affect Your Body
The nervous system, reproductive system, skeletal system, as well as the brain, heart, liver and kidneys are all at risk when the components of e-waste aren’t recycled. Birth defects and kidney damage can appear as well. When one is exposed to chlorine that isn’t properly disposed of, they can experience cell structure destruction and tissue damage. Cadmium, found in cell phone batteries, can cause issues with learning, cognition, neuromotor and behavioral skills in children.
Arsenic can also be found in many different items, including cell phones. High doses of arsenic are lethal, while lower levels of exposure can cause detrimental damage to the nervous and respiratory systems as well as the skin and liver.
By the year 2020, another 200 million tons of e waste will seep into our soil and water. All you can do to help is learn about recycling e waste. Simply donate old computers or laptops to schools or churches, repair broken ones, or bring them to your nearest recycling center to ensure they are properly recycled.