As we become more and more dependent on modern technology, the mountain of electronic waste becomes bigger and bigger. The pile of e-waste represents a serious danger to the environment and only through responsible recycling and proper waste differentiation, we will be able to mitigate the negative impact. Leakage of dangerous substances leads to a disastrous contamination of our soil, air, and water. Find out which are the top toxic chemicals found in e-waste. If you are a company’s CEO, you should consider the proper implementation of EMS systems.
Mercury is one of the most dangerous chemicals found in electronic devices. It is used for flat screens and various lighting devices. Older computers have batteries containing mercury. Also, older switches, relays and mainframe servers contain this substance. Leakage of mercury is extremely dangerous. Incineration can cause vapors to travel a far distance. In contact with water, it will transform to methylmercury, a highly toxic substance. Inhalation of mercury can damage the central nervous system and the kidneys.
Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) are chemicals used to make various products less flammable. They are commonly found in plastics, textiles and electrical/electronic equipment. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers, Tetrabromobisphenol A, and other phenols are commonly found in electronics, especially circuitry boards. Most BFRs are environmentally persistent and some of them, highly bio-accumulative. Data has shown that long-term exposure to certain BFRs can cause brain and skeletal development issues (especially to fetuses). Furthermore, BFRs can affect certain hormone systems, especially thyroid hormones (affecting growth and development). Experiments on animals have concluded that BFRs can also affect the liver and delay puberty.
Beryllium is widely used in electronics, being a very good electrical conductor. Also, copper-beryllium alloys are widespread, containing about 2% beryllium. Usually, those who are affected by beryllium are the workers who participate in the refining and processing activities. Inhaled fumes and dust of beryllium and beryllium oxide cause CBD (chronic beryllium disease). The same dust and fumes can also be found during the recycling process when the equipment is shredded.
Beryllium is chronically and acutely toxic to the humans and mainly affects the lungs. Acute Beryllium Disease (ABD) is caused by breathing a high concentration of beryllium. The main symptoms are shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, very fast heart rate and, in some cases, death. Almost a third of those suffering from ABD will eventually develop the chronic form of exposure, known as berylliosis. Even so, CBD symptoms are severe, including emphysema and fibrosis of the lungs, which can be fatal.
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