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Recycling Made Easy!

E-waste Dangers

In 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.

But 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.

e-waste reclamation

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 not good.

Suburban 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 the curve.

People 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 mercury-tainted fish.

Researchers in the Dartmouth Toxic Metals Research Program have compiled a list of the effects that some of these toxins take on the human body. Keep in mind this is not an exhaustive list of all the suspected health effects of these metals. Also, this list mentions only some of the chemicals and compounds used in household products.
  • 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, fragile bones.

  • 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.

[Source: Dartmouth Toxic Metals Research Program]

Need more info or have additional questions? 520-406-7446






  Electronics Recycling, Computer Recycling, Hard Drive Shredding and Data Destruction - Serving Tucson, Casa Grande, Sierra Vista, Vail, Sahuarita, Green Valley and Phoenix Arizona. Copyright 2007-2017 Suburban Miners. 3820 E. Blacklidge Dr. Tucson, Arizona 85716 P: 520.406.7446