Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

The Importance of Recycling Computers: An Update on Electronics Toxicity. (EH Update)

Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

The Importance of Recycling Computers: An Update on Electronics Toxicity. (EH Update)

Article excerpt

Desktop computers are built with materials that contain toxic chemicals and are regarded as hazardous waste. Color monitors routinely fail toxicity characteristic leachate procedure (TCLP) tests, and testing in progress for other electronics indicates that CPUs, servers, and cell phones are unlikely to pass TCLP tests.

Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, it is illegal for businesses to put hazardous waste in the trash. Nevertheless, many computers, televisions, and other electronics still find their way to landfills or waste-to-energy facilities. It is estimated that more than 20 million PCs become obsolete yearly in the United States, representing a mounting pile--hundreds of thousands of tons--of lead, mercury, chromium, silver, and battery acids from nickel-cadmium, lithium, or sealed lead-acid batteries.

When electronic equipment reaches the end of its useful life, the businesses that own them should plan to recycle, donate, or otherwise ensure that they are not put in the trash. Dumping electronics is illegal, and under CERCLA legislation, downstream liability may accrue to the original owner for improper disposal of hazardous wastes. …

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