The Impact of Improper Electronic Waste Disposal

Electronic waste isn’t exactly something the average consumer thinks of when making decisions and living everyday life. Shoppers don’t blink an eye at the opportunity to upgrade their electronics and many times, they don’t have plans for their old devices and just trash it, not thinking of the impact or possibilities the item still holds. Just because an item has no value to you doesn’t mean somebody else wouldn’t like to use it or that the pieces that make the item are useless! 

Electronic waste, or e waste, contains toxic components dangerous to humans such as; mercury, lead, cadmium, polybrominated flame retardants, barium and lithium. When e waste is exposed to the heat, toxic chemicals are released damaging our atmosphere. Those toxic chemicals have some scary impacts to our soil, water and air. 

The toxic chemicals that seep into groundwater affect sea and land animals as well as contaminating the soil and local water supplies for humans. Groundwater is what sustains many surface streams, ponds and lakes. As many animals rely on these for nourishment, the toxins make them sick and cause imbalances in our ecosystem. Remember how these are dangerous to humans, well some side effects may include brain, heart, kidney, liver and skeletal system damage. They can enter our food supply through the “nutrients” the plants and trees get from the soil. Many of the chemicals found in electronic waste are considered carcinogenic, meaning a potential cause of cancer. 

When e waste is disposed of at the landfill, it is typically burned by incinerators on site. This process releases hydrocarbons into the air, causing instant pollution and harmful to both humans and animals around. Not to mention that these hydrocarbons contribute to the greenhouse gas effect, which is what many scientists believe to be a major cause of global warming. 

As you can see when electronic waste is improperly disposed of it can be extremely dangerous to humans & our environment. If you see the possible value of the item, try to sell on a local marketplace, or if you’re unsure and/or don’t want to use your time you can always donate your old electronics to your local computer recycler. There they may be able to bring your actual item back to life, or they may scrap the pieces and use those to improve other pieces of electronic waste to bring those to life.

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