One of the biggest problems inherrent in e-waste is the ammount of heavy metals it contains. In fact, e-waste accounts for 70% of the heavy metals in landfills, with 40% of the lead in landfills coming from CRTs alone.
Some of the heavy metals found in electronics include the following:
Lead – found in glass panels in computer monitors and in lead soldering of printed circuit boards. Consumer electronics may be responsible for 40% of the lead found in landfills. The principal pathway of concern is lead leaching from landfills and contaminating drinking water supplies.
Mercury – found in thermostats, position sensors, relays and switches (e.g., on printed circuit boards), discharge lamps, and batteries. It is also used in medical equipment, data transmission, telecommunications, and mobile phones.
Hexavalent Chromium or Chromium VI – can be used to protect against corrosion of untreated and galvanized steel plates.
Brominated Flame Retardants – found on printed circuit boards, components such as plastic covers and cables as well as plastic covers of televisions.
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