Throwing your old electrical products into the bin can lead to them ending up in landfills, where they will seep toxic poisons and ultimately end up in the surrounding environment such as our water supplies. Not only will the environment be at risk, so will the health of those living in the area.
E-waste thrown into landfills and incineration of waste leads to the release of hazardous chemicals which can be absorbed by people, animals and plants. The toxins find their way into ground water; lead can end up in drinking water supplies, and mercury leach into surrounding soils. Chromium can pollute the surroundings through landfill leachate, and air contamination can arise when materials containing chromium are incinerated. Here are just some of the main poisons that are found in e-waste products, and their devastating effects.
Lead is one of the biggest toxins found in landfills today, a particularly lethal material its negative health effects are well-known. When introduced to the food chain and atmosphere it can affect the brain and nervous system. Exposure to lead generally comes from polluted drinking water. For adults it can cause problems with the reproductive system, high blood pressure, and memory and concentration problems. However it has a more dramatic affect on young children who may be slower to develop both physically and mentally, experience hearing problems, and behaviour and learning problems. Similar effects are produced when lead is found in the environment with reproductive systems of plants and wildlife affected.
Mercury is another poison that causes harm to people and the local environment. It’s found in certain household light-bulbs; once these are broken it is released and transferred into local environments. Once in landfills the mercury mixes with organics, anaerobic breakdown takes place and highly toxic methyl-mercury is produced which gets into the food chain, with devastating effects. Most of the time people come into contact with mercury through food, mainly fish and shellfish.
Toxins from mercury have the most dramatic effect on foetuses and very young children, particularly on their nervous system. Symptoms can range from headaches and insomnia, to tremors and emotional changes. The main health consequence is damage to neurological development and cognitive abilities, including memory, attention, language, and fine motor skills.
Depending on the level of exposure, effects of methylmercury exposure on wildlife can result in death, infertility, a slower growth and development rate, and abnormal behaviour that affects animals survival rate. It’s also been discovered that the endocrine system of fish is altered in various ways depending upon how much methylmercury is released into the environment, the results of this are that young fish are incapable of developing into healthy adult fish.
It is up to each and every one of us to make sure our children in the future live in a safe and poison free environment, just as we are. Recycling electronic waste now will put a stop to poisons and toxins from having a dramatic and dangerous affect on human health and the environment. Check out recycling Sydney for advice and information on ways you can reduce waste.
Check online for environmental services in Australia who can help you out with all elements of waste management and resource recovery, including industrial services such as industrial cleaning and facilities management. Companies that have been established for many years have the necessary experience and knowledge needed in applying efficient, modern and sustainable waste solutions. E-waste collection and recycling services are simple to set-up and the best method of recycling your discarded IT equipment, whilst at the same time making changes for the better to improve businesses environmental performance.