E-Waste on Public Lands

There is a big problem with people using old electronic components for target practice. The effects of this can be seen at many areas throughout Central Arizona. Not only does it suck to look at it, but it also poisons the wildlife and plant life of the affected areas. The following is a list of some of the materials electronic waste releases into the environment, when it’s not properly disposed of. Some of these materials also leach into our groundwater, and as run off, flows into lakes, rivers and streams potentially polluting human water resources.

Brominated flame-retardants can be found in nearly every electronic device. These are used in structural materials to prevent devices from being completely destroyed by fire. Though these chemicals have a noble cause, their effects after disposal can be less than ideal.

BFRs are well known for causing hormonal disorders once the dust from incineration is inhaled. These can lead to behavioral problems and learning disabilities when the exposure is long term. Even worse, BFRs are difficult to break down in natural environments and so pose a high risk of remaining in soil and water long after a device is discarded. For these reasons, many electronics manufacturers are fortunately stepping away from the use of these toxic materials.


Chromium is yet another material used with good intentions in the electronic industry. This substance prevents corrosion and can increase conductivity of electrical impulses. Though most types of chromium and its oxides are relatively harmless, there is one form, Chromium VI, which can present serious negative consequences for the human body.

Found mostly in data tapes and floppy disks, this substance is easily absorbed even at the cellular level and can cause irritation to the mucous membranes as well as DNA damage.


The dangerous effects of lead and lead poisoning have been highlighted by the ongoing fight to warn residents of older homes and workspaces. Many of these living spaces were built using lead- based paints and other materials that were not known to be as dangerous at the time. Yet, one source of lead is highly prevalent in our current modern age: electronics.

In fact, a number of electronics, particularly those containing cathode ray tubes, house this toxic metal. CRTs can be found in a number of household devices, such as the LCD screens of televisions, computers and laptops. The problem is that once these devices are discarded, the lead becomes a potential danger to the environment and to nearby communities.

Lead exposure even in small amounts can cause severe impairments in children and multisystem breakdown in adults. Even short-term exposure can cause vomiting and diarrhea. This means that lead not only poses dangerous health risks if not properly discarded, but also that workers at plants manufacturing electronic devices could be at risk.


The dangers of mercury exposure are also well known, but readers may be surprised to find that even household electronic devices contain a number of mercury-based parts. Switches, thermostats, batteries and fluorescent lamps all contain mercury. Even the devices used to light up the ever-popular flat-screen displays contain mercury. When this heavy metal is not properly discarded, it can cause both brain and liver damage as well as central nervous system deterioration.

Polyvinyl chloride

It is difficult to imagine what life would be like without PVC plastics. Yet, the dangers and environmental risks associated with this material have surfaced over the past few decades to reveal that perhaps our dependence on its advantages should wane.

PVC plastic forms the makeup of a slew of electronic devices, from computer keyboards to sound system speakers. PVC can also be found in cable insulation and electronics wiring. Serious issues arise when PVC is incinerated. The chlorine gas released can combine with water to produce hydrochloric acid — a chemical that can lead to serious respiratory issues.

Toxins in e-waste: A dangerous list

The toxins listed here are just a handful of the hazardous chemicals and heavy metals that can be found in electronic devices. It is important to emphasize that once these devices are discarded the toxins contained within can quickly seep into soil and water and dissipate into the air. They may even combine with other materials to produce cumulative effects that can be extremely harmful to both the environment and human health — posing a serious threat to the overall sustainability, and well being, of the planet.

Effects on wildlife


Wildlife may be exposed to metals when they are components of pesticides, such as mercury and cadmium in fungicides, or through other routes, such as aquatic food chains with high mercury levels.

Metal Source

  • Arsenic Used as an insecticide and preservative; present in wastes from metal smelting and glass manufacturing.
  • Cadmium Used as a fungicide; waste from electroplating and production of plastics and batteries.
  • Chromium Industrial effluents from ore refinement, chemical processing.
  • Copper Used as a fungicide, an algicide, and in agriculture.
  • Lead Mine tailings, ingestion of particulate lead deposited during sporting activities.
  • Mercury Used as a fungicide in paper mills and other industrial and agricultural uses; combustion of fossil fuels.
  • Selenium Irrigation drain water from soils with high selenium concentrations; combustion of fossil fuel; sewage sludge.
  • Zinc Found throughout the environment; higher levels in areas of industrial discharge.
  • Petroleum Wildlife may be exposed to many forms of petroleum, ranging from crude oils to highly refined forms, such as fuel oil.
  • Others Many manufactured compounds, such as antifreeze (ethylene glycol) and certain drugs (such as euthanasia agents), present hazards to exposed wildlife.


E Waste Recycled by www.egreenitsolutions.com