These days, it’s actually illegal in California to put batteries, monitors, and televisions in landfills. While this seems like an inconvenient law for many, it’s actually meant to protect the environment and the human population. This is because these electronics, as well as many others, are made with certain hazardous materials that can leach into the environment, causing problems for plant, animal, and human populations when they get into the water and dirt in an area.
Are you wondering what hazardous materials can be found in electronics that you probably use every day? Here are just a few that are commonly found in electronics:
- Lead: This heavy metal is commonly found in different types of electronics. Although it occurs naturally in the environment, overexposure can cause tons of health problems for humans, including nervous system damage. Infants and young children, according to Health Canada, are more likely to experience damage from lead because their bodies absorb it more readily; in young children, lead can cause reduction in IQ, as well as other issues.
- Arsenic: This deadly poison can be found in older cathode tubes. According to the EPA, even a little bit of arsenic in the water supply can cause skin problems, nausea, stomach pain, partial paralysis, and diarrhea. It has also been linked to certain types of cancer.
- Selenium: This is one of the many hazardous materials found in circuit boards. Interestingly enough, your body needs a little bit of selenium from food to function properly, but recent studies show that overexposure can cause hormonal problems that can result in gastrointestinal problems, hair loss, skin problems, and may lead to cancer.
- Mercury: This heavy metal is often found in switches and housing for electronics. It’s one of the worst hazardous materials in electronic waste and must be dealt with very carefully. The EPA notes that mercury exposure can cause developmental problems in fetuses, infants, and children. It can also cause lack of coordination, speech and hearing impairment, and impaired peripheral vision, among other things.
Keeping hazardous materials out of the environment
Most of the hazardous materials in landfills come from electronic waste, so the best way to keep these materials out of the environment is to properly dispose of electronic waste through recycling. Companies like Recycle San Diego will properly dismantle electronic waste and will carefully deal with hazardous wastes, keeping them out of the environment for good!