E Waste And How It Affects The Environment

944 words - 4 pages

The same hyper technology that is hailed as a crucial vector for future modern societal development has a not-so-modern downside to it: E-Waste. Many authors writing about globalization emphasize the importance of computers and other electronic devices as a facilitator for connecting, and at the same time, controlling people around the globe, but very few write about the huge piles of scrap that is produced during this process that is being done illegally, mostly in China and India.What is E-Waste? The California Integrated Waste Management Board web site (http://www.ciwmb.ca.gov/Electronics/WhatisEwaste/) states that "E-waste is a popular, informal name for electronic products nearing the end of their "useful life." Computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, and fax machines are common electronic products. Many of these products can be reused, refurbished, or recycled. Unfortunately, electronic discards is one of the fastest growing segments of our nation's waste stream". These are just a few of the common products and the use has expanded rapidly since the 1990s. And with rapid improvements of these products the older products become obsolete after just a few years of use. Disposal rates are rising rapidly as well and many people do not realize that disposal and production of these products contain toxic metals and chemicals that may leak into the environment.In an article written by Peter Coffee, (http://www.keepmedia.com/pubs/eWeek/2004/04/19/452551) "some of the environmental impact to produce and dispose of just a few items for a computer would involve the following:To produce a 2-gram, 256K-bit RAM (Random Access Memory) chip you would need: 72 grams of chemicals, 1.2 kilograms of fossil fuels, 32 kilograms of water. Discarding a PC requires finding safe disposal for: 2 to 4 kilograms of lead (CRT monitor), 6.3 kilograms of mixed plastics with other chemical content. Current PC disposal practices affect the environment by: putting heavy metal into the waste stream, releasing dioxins and furans during incineration, exposing workers to toner particles, tin-lead solder fumes, and chlorine and sulfur dioxide gases."How does this affect the environment? Chris Young from the Human Rights Advocates (http://www.humanrightsadvocates.org/images/Toxics%20Report.doc) writes "In the town of Yandang, where chemical processes have been used for extracting gold from waste computers for more than ten years, 80% of the wells have been contaminated. Many of the area's trees have withered; fish and shrimp have become extinct; polluted crop lands lie in waste." Through an environmental class that I had taken in 2004 I also learned that it also affects the biosphere, when recycling plants illegally recycle electronic parts such as salvaging copper from printed circuit boards. Workers use a brew of nitric acid, a toxic substance that releases the copper from the circuit boards as well as mercury, which is a suspected carcinogen that can cause cancer, and...

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