E-waste contains various hazardous materials. While e-waste only constitutes 2-3% of the total waste, it is responsible for 50-70% of the all hazardous materials in it. Unlike any other devices in our lives, up to 60 elements from the periodic table can be found in complex electronics. Computer monitors and TV screens contain an average of 1 - 1,5 kgs of lead each. Monitor glass contains about 20% lead by weight.
When these components are illegally disposed and crushed in landfills, lead is released into the environment, posing a hazardous legacy for current and future generations. Consumer electronics already constitute 40% of lead found in land fills.
These heavy metals can contaminate the groundwater and pose public health risks. Lead can cause damage to the nervous system, blood system and kidneys. Large consumption of lead develops blood anemia and brain damage that is severe enough to kill a child. Breathing cadmium can severely damage lungs and cause death. LCDs are illuminated by mercury filled panels.
Other poisonous materials used in electronics include chromium, lithium and hydrocarbons. The presence of hydrocarbons, flame retardants, and pvc coated cables makes the e-waste too dangerous to be burned.
Unfortunately in many undeveloped countries, cables are still burned today to recover copper. Incineration of e -waste releases dioxins that would result in various kinds of cancer including lung cancer.
Due to all these health risks, e - waste should be recycled in a proper recycling facility by professional recyclers instead of small illegal workshops.