many instances, the only visible part of an electronic
product is its outer shell. Unless that casing
is broken, we rarely see the myriad circuit boards,
wiring and electrical connections that make the
device actually function.
it's those inner mechanical organs that are so
valuable and so toxic. A whole bouquet of heavy
metals, semimetals and other chemical compounds
lurk inside your seemingly innocent laptop or
TV. E-waste dangers stem from ingredients such
as lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, copper, beryllium,
barium, chromium, nickel, zinc, silver and gold.
Many of these elements are used in circuit boards
and comprise electrical parts such as computer
chips, monitors and wiring. Also, many electrical
products include various flame-retardant chemicals
that might pose potential health risks.
When these elements are safely encased in our
refrigerators and laptops, e-waste dangers aren't
much of an issue. Problems can occur when devices
break intentionally or accidentally. Then they
can leak and contaminate their immediate environment,
whether that's in a landfill or on the streets
within a region full of struggling laborers. Over
time, the toxic chemicals of a landfill's e-waste
can seep into the ground (possibly entering the
water supply) or escape into the atmosphere, affecting
the health of nearby communities. As we discussed
on the previous page, the jury is still out on
the danger level of this e-waste contamination,
but it's safe to assume that the results are probably
Miners handles this important issue by providing
a safe indoor recycling facility with a solid
concrete foundation which serves to keep any eWaste
from contaminating our groundwater. Most other
recycling centers in Arizona work outdoors and
directly on top of the soil. Indoor clean recycling
is the future of recycling and we are ahead of
are beginning to discuss the serious aspects of
this pollution in terms of bioaccumulation and
biomagnification. Bioaccumulation occurs when
people, plants and animals build up levels of
toxic substances in their bodies faster than they
can get rid of them. Biomagnification occurs when
toxin levels accumulate within the food chain.
For example, plankton might absorb low levels
of mercury. Then fish that eat large amounts of
plankton ingest an even larger, unhealthier dose.
The problem continues as birds or humans eat the
Arsenic may disrupt cell communication and interfere
with the triggers that cause cells to grow,
possibly contributing to cardiovascular disease,
cancer and diabetes if someone is exposed in
chronic, low doses.
Cadmium affects your body's ability to metabolize
calcium, leading to bone pain and severely weakened,
Chromium can cause skin irritation and rashes
and is potentially carcinogenic.
Copper can irritate the throat and lungs and
affect the liver, kidneys and other body systems.
Lead poisoning can cause a whole slew of health
problems including the impairment of cognitive
and verbal activity. Eventually, lead exposure
can cause paralysis, coma and death.
Nickel is carcinogenic in large doses.
Silver probably won't hurt you, but handle it
too frequently and you might come down with
a case of argyria -- a condition that permanently
stains your skin a blue-gray shade.