Consumer Reports: Toxic E-Waste Threat

The disposal of electronic equipment is a growing toxic threat. Millions of computers, TVs, and cell phones have ended up in landfills. Toxic chemicals that are used in electronics can leach into the soil, contaminate the ground water, and become airborne if incinerated. All of those pose serious health hazards.

Older TVs with cathode ray tubes can contain as much as 8 pounds of lead. The old-style computer monitors, up to 4 pounds of lead. Flat-screen monitors can contain mercury. And printed circuit boards used in electronics can have chromium, nickel, and zinc.

Before you replace your electronics, consider whether you can upgrade or repair it. You can also donate it and have it reused by somebody else. And if it is absolutely broken, make sure you recycle it. Check to see whether your town sponsors collection days. Or ask the store where you're purchasing new equipment if the manufacturer or the store itself has a recycling program.

Ideally you want to look for a recycler who has promised not to dump hazardous E-waste in municipal landfills or send it to other countries. Check whether a recycler has signed the Electronics Recycler's Pledge. To look for recyclers in your area, you can go to the

Consumer Reports

Web site devoted to all things green:


Consumer Reports

has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor appearing on this Web site.

Copyright © 2003-2007

Consumers Union

of U.S., Inc.