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Is Modern Technology Polluting The World - Essay Example

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Is Modern Technology Polluting The World? Modern technology is polluting the world through electronic waste. Old electronic products are made of hazardous components and when these components are released, they cause serious health and environmental problems…
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Download file to see previous pages Thus, pollution of the world by electronic waste is still increasing. Electronic devices contain numerous (several hundred) complex materials. For instance, a mobile phone has 500 to 1000 elements. Most of these electronic devices have toxic heavy metals like mercury, beryllium, cadmium, lead, and hazardous/dangerous chemicals like brominated flame-retardants. Another component that is frequently used is polluting PVC plastic. These substances lead to severe pollution and the workers are put at risk when these products are disposed of or when they are produced. Pregnant women and children are at a high risk of getting health complications when they are exposed to mercury and lead. Lead and mercury are very toxic and they can cause harm to the developing fetuses and children regardless of the level of exposure (Greenpeace 2005, p1). Hazardous chemicals such as brominated flame-retardants, cadmium, mercury, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) cause serious health and environmental problems. Brominated flame-retardants are utilized in plastic casings and circuit boards; these products do not degrade very easily and thus, they increase in the environment. Impaired memory and learning functions can occur if the individual is exposed for long to brominated flame-retardants. These chemicals can also interfere with the oestrogen and thyroid hormone systems. Behavioral problems have been linked with exposure in the womb. Cadmium is utilized in switches, older CRTs, contacts, and in rechargeable computer batteries. Cadmium is highly toxic and it can lead to accumulation in the environment. It specifically affects the bones and kidneys. The lighting devices used in flat screen displays use the compound mercury. Mercury can lead to the damage of the central nervous system and the brain especially during the early development. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a chlorinated plastic is used in some of the electronic products. It is also used for insulation on cables and wires. Compounds such as furans and chlorinated dioxins are released “when PVC is produced or disposed of by incineration (or simply burning). These chemicals are highly persistent in the environment and many are toxic even in low concentrations” (Greenpeace 2005, p1). According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), most of the old electronic products are stored in closets and garages waiting to be thrown away, recycled or to be reused. None of these methods seem to be safe because they release toxic and hazardous components into the environment, atmosphere and to those who handle these products, for instance, workers in a recycling plant. When these products are thrown away, they are either exported to Asia, or thrown into the incinerators or landfills. It is estimated by the US EPA that in 2000, e-waste weighing more than 4.6 million tonnes ended up in United States landfills. The electronic products contain toxic chemicals, which can be freed into the atmosphere, or leak into the land and thus, affecting the environment and the nearby communities. There are regulations in Europe to prevent the dumping of electronic waste into landfills because of the hazardous substances contained in them (Greenpeace 2009, p1). Incineration frees heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium, and lead into the ashes and the air. These chemicals cause health and environmental problems. Some of the old electronic products are exported to developing nations and this practice is ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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