Toxic heavy metals
The lifespan of a typical smartphone is 21 months. Even though smartphones are made to be sturdy, their constant use and the occasional drop takes its toll, so this short time period should not come as a surprise. And with newer and fancier models being churned out every year, U.S. residents throw away over 140 million cell phones every year.
If you cannot sell your old phone, what should you do with it? One option is to toss it in the trash. Doesn’t it get shipped to a landfill where it is buried in some remote location far from human habitation?
The United States generates more than 2 million tons of electronic waste each year. Even though electronics make up only 2% of the waste in landfills, they represent 70% of the heavy metals found in landfills. It is these heavy metals that can cause long-term pollution risks and seriously affect human health. Dozens of different kinds of metals are found in a typical smartphone, many of which are toxic.
Lead, nickel, arsenic, and cadmium are just a few of the toxic metals found in most smartphones. In China, for example, soil levels of toxic metals at electronics disposal sites have been measured to be between 10 times and 100 times greater than normal levels of toxic metals in soil. Exposure to these chemicals can result in a variety of adverse health effects, including birth defects, neurological disorders, and kidney damage.