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Cell Phone Recycling The Poison in Our Cell Phones

June 11th, 2008 · 2 Comments

The article is all about cell phone recycling the poison in our cell phones. This article explains why recycling of cell phone is necessary.

Is cell phone recycling necessary? Why recycle cell phones?

Yesterday, we discussed the sorry state of cell phone recycling in America, and as I mentioned in that post, there’s a large percentage in our population who are unaware that cell phone recycling is possible or that it’s necessary.

The iSuppli survey, cited in that article, identified over 10 percent of cell phone users in the US threw their cell phones away last year or declared these as lost or stolen. In actual numbers, that’s approximately 10 million cell phones from 2007 ending up in our landfills.

In this follow-up post, we will be exploring one of the most compelling reasons why cell phone recycling is absolutely necessary to protect ourselves and the environment. Let’s look at the poison in our cell phones.

Electronic waste or e-waste (TV sets, computers, cell phones, etc.) contain highly-toxic heavy metals and chemicals. The circuit boards, batteries, and casing of these products contain lead, cadmium, mercury, brominated flame retardants (BFRs), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), etc. The danger lies in the absence of cell phone recycling and improper disposal.

Deposited in our landfills and exposed to the elements, e-waste could potentially leach these dangerous chemicals into the surrounding soil and into our underground water systems.

How dangerous are these chemicals and metals?

Lead – Here’s the Wikipedia excerpt on the toxicity of this metal:

Lead is a poisonous metal that can damage nervous connections (especially in young children) and cause blood and brain disorders. Long term exposure to lead or its salts (especially soluble salts or the strong oxidant PbO2) can cause nephropathy, and colic-like abdominal pains.

According to Dr. Anne Marie Helmenstine, author and leading authority in biomedical sciences, lead has been found to cause development problems in children and diminishes brain functions even in adults. In a recent publication, Dr. Kim Dietrich from the University of Cincinnati, has associated lead exposure during childhood to deviant criminal behavior in adults. According to Dr.Dietrich’s report, their findings “implicate early exposure to lead as a risk factor for behaviors leading to criminal arrest.”

Although each cell phone contains only minute amount of lead compared to a TV set or a computer monitor, for instance, which can contain 4-5 lbs. of lead, the sheer number of cell phones thrown into our landfills multiply this amount a million times. It is estimated that the total 500 million cell phones dumped into our landfills could potentially leak 312,000 pounds of lead into our underground water systems.

Mercury –  Found in the batteries of cell phones, Mercury is a cumulative metal poison. Mercury exposure can:

…damage the central nervous system and other organs or organ systems such as the liver or gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms typically include sensory impairment (vision, hearing, speech), disturbed sensation and a lack of coordination.

Dr. Richard Lathe, a specialist in childhood autism and former professor at the University of Edinburgh, and author of Autism, Brain And Environment has identified exposure to heavy metal like mercury as one of the primary factors in the increase in the incidence of autism.

Cadmium – Also found in cell phone batteries, Cadmium exposure can lead to “liver and irreversible kidney problems (often fatal), respiratory and bone density problems. Compounds containing cadmium are also carcinogenic.

Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), used in cell phone casing, have come under fire in recent years because these chemicals have been found to leach highly-toxic and/or carcinogenic chemicals, under certain conditions.

Most of our landfills today are scientifically designed with special protective lining and cover to contain chemicals leaking from the solid waste, but will you gamble the health of your children and your own health, on the chance that cell phones and other electronic wastes we so carelessly throw to our landfills will not leach chemicals into our underground water systems? Or contaminate the surrounding areas near our homes?

The likelihood of these dangerous and deadly chemicals seeping into our water systems is just too high. By not doing cell phone recycling or by dumping cell phones and other electronic wastes in our landfills, we are practically poisoning ourselves.

In the light of these, do you still think cell phone recycling is unnecessary?


Tags: Cell Phone Recycling

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Molly // Jun 19, 2009 at 10:27 am

    This is a great post. A lot of people aren’t aware of these toxins in their cell phones or the fact that they can recycle their phones. More awareness of this needs to get out there.

  • 2 HCP // Jun 28, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Nice post. I have done couple of cell phone fundraising at my work already but i still didnt know some of the things mentioned here.