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E-Waste of Computer Components

August 20th, 2013 · No Comments

In this article we will discuss about E-Waste of computer components. Here’s the complete discussion:

E-Waste comprises of the electronic products that are no longer useful to us. The e-wastes are dangerous, and on the basis of their condition and density the hazardous levels are marked. E-waste management has become a significant problem due to the technical prowess we have gained in the last century. Personal computers are an indispensable part of our lives, but they contain various toxic substances, such as toxic gases, chlorinated and brominated substances, toxic metals, acids, biologically active materials, plastics and plastic additives.

These substances are hazardous to the health and environment, as well. So, it becomes necessary to dispose off these e-wastes very cautiously.

E-Wastes Due to Computer Components

A life without computer cannot be imagined today. They are commonly used in offices, schools, colleges, residences and manufacturing industries. The computer components contain e-toxic substances of a broad range.

  • Circuit Boards- these include heavy metals like lead and cadmium
  • Batteries- these include cadmium
  • Cathode ray tubes- they contain lead and barium oxide
  • Brominated flame retardant in coated on circuit boards, cables, and PVC
  • Copper cables and plastic coated computers release toxic dioxins and furan when burnt
  • Flat screens contain mercury
  • Old capacitors contain PCB

It has been estimated that 286,700 kg of mercury, about 4 kg of lead, 2.87 billion kg of plastic and 716.7 kg of lead are present in 500 million computers, in the world. These heavy metals like lead contaminate the ground water and when burnt produce harmful effects like the emission of toxic fumes in the atmosphere.

Hazardous Effects of e-Waste on the Environment

Acidification of soil caused by the melting of computer chips is one of the most hazardous effects. Moreover, when computers are dumped in the ground leading to the pollution of water sources also. Due to contamination of water resources it is illegal to deposit and recycle e-waste in countries like Guiyu, Hong Kong. These areas now faces severe water shortage issues because of the acidification of the water sources. The recycling process means deposition of wastes in the rivers and water sources, which lead to its contamination. Now, water has to be supplied from far off places to meet the requirements of the people, who live there. It is not only the water is contaminated, but the air is also polluted when the e-wastes are burnt and it produces toxic fumes that mix up with the air. When the electronic devices are destroyed metals leach, for instance mercury from the circuits and the PCBs from the condensers. When plastics that contain cadmium are landfilled, PDBE and cadmium leach inside the soil.

Health Hazards of Computer Components e-Waste


This is present in circuit boards, glass panels, gaskets and computer monitors. Solder contain lead that damage the nervous system, blood system, kidney and also affect the development of brain in children.

Chip resistors and Radium Conductors

The cadmium present in these parts are dangerous to human because the toxins released cause  neural damage and teratogenic effects in fetus.

Relays, Switches and Printed Circuit Boards

Mercury present in these elements leads to brain damage, disorders in the respiratory system and skin diseases.

Corrosion Protectors

Asthmatic bronchitis and DNA damage are caused due to the Hexavalent Chromium present.

Cabling and Computer Housing

When burn these produce dioxin, which causes problems of reproduction, destruction of the immune system, and regulatory hormones are damaged too.

Circuit Boards

The endocrine system’s functions are interrupted because of the Brominated Flame Retardants.

Front panel of CRTs and Mother Board

Skin and heart diseases, muscle weakness, lung cancer, chronic beryllium diseases are caused because of the presence of Beryllium.

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Tags: Computer Recycling