Health and environmental impacts of communications and information equipment and safety guidelines - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

About This Presentation

Health and environmental impacts of communications and information equipment and safety guidelines


Health and environmental impacts of communications and information equipment and safety guidelines Dr. Mohamed El-Zarka Historical review Along the history ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

Number of Views:1054
Avg rating:3.0/5.0
Slides: 88
Provided by: ituarabic


Transcript and Presenter's Notes

Title: Health and environmental impacts of communications and information equipment and safety guidelines

Health and environmental impacts of
communications and information equipment and
safety guidelines
  • Dr. Mohamed El-Zarka

Historical review
  • Along the history, philosophers and scientists
    have explored and developed several natural
    phenomena that facilitated the life of the
  • The philosopher Thales of Milteus (640-546 B.C)
    is thought to have been the first person who
    observed the electrical properties of amber and
    explored the magnetic properties of lodestone.
  • People have always watched but few have analyzed
    that great display of power present in the
    electrical discharge in the sky called lightning.
  • The twitch of the leg of a dead frog when
    dissected with a moisted metal scapel that has
    been noticed by Galvani in 1786, had led Volta to
    invent the electric battery .

  • Ampere defined the electric current in 1820.
  • In 1843, Morse transmitted telegraph signals
    from Baltimore to Washington DC.
  • In 1875, Graham Bell invented the telephone.
  • In 1899 Marconi transmitted radio signals from
    South Foreland to Wimereux, England.
  • Armstrong demonstrated FM radio transmission in
  • Electronic digital Computer has been
    demonstrated in 1946.
  • First Voice Transmission from a satellite was in
    1958. In 1987, Superconductivity demonstrated at
    95 K.

Advantages of ICT
  • The Recent growth of ICT has been astounding. Now
    we are able to communicate at lightening speed,
    by using computers, facsimiles and mobile phones.
  • The globalization of the worlds economies
    greatly enhances the value of information.

Advantages of ICT (continued..)
  • The relatively recent explosion of electronic
    commerce has further increased the pace of
    business transactions.
  • The major industrial economies have been
    transformed into information based service
    economics in which knowledge and information
    become the key ingredients in creating wealth.

Advantages of ICT (continued..)
  • Advanced communications and telecommunications
    infrastructure reduced transportation needs, led
    to reduction of fuel consumption and consequently
    reduction of air pollution from carbon monoxide,
    carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and
    other pollutants.

Advantages of ICT (continued..)
  • Information technologies, computer aided design ,
    and computer controlled manufacturing are used to
    increase the efficiency of power plants and
    industrial processes that decreases pollution,
    waste and resource consumption and make products
    that are more readily recycled.

Advantages of ICT (continued..)
  • ICT became a crucial tool in all aspects of our
    life , in education , business , industry,
    medical diagnosis and treatment, transportation ,
    defense and in protecting man and environment.
  • A countrys ability to manage and use ICT will be
    the single determinant of its rate of development.

The Impacts of ICT
  • As usual every development has a price, and
    the price of the progress in the amazing, fast,
    ever-evolving communications and Information
    Technologies might be negative Impacts on health
    and Environment , that result from
  • The electromagnetic radiation associated with
    equipment use
  • Equipment waste disposal

Electromagnetic Radiation
  • Electromagnetic radiation consists of waves of
    electric and magnetic energy moving together
    through space.
  • All electromagnetic radiation can be classified
    by frequency from the extremely low to extremely
    high frequencies.

  • Extremely high frequency radiation such as
    Ultraviolet (UV) and X-rays is called Ionizing
    Radiation because it is powerful enough to
    effect changes in the atoms of matter it strikes,
    by breaking chemical bonds (ionization) , thus
    altering their chemical and biological nature .
  • Electromagnetic radiation at those frequencies
    below the UV band are generally classified as
    Non-Ionizing Radiation because they typically
    lack the energy to effect changes in atomic

The Electromagnetic Spectrum
  • Mobile phones operate at a variety of frequencies
    between about 800 and 2200 MHz.
  • Mobile Phones base station antennas emit EMR in
    the range 1800 2000 MHz
  • Computer monitors emit a broad range of EMR from
    30 Hz up to 300 GHz.

The biological effects of RF
  • The biological effects of RF radiation depend on
    the rate at which power is absorbed.
  • This rate of energy absorption is called the
    Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) and is measured in
    watts/kilogram (W/kg). SARs are difficult to
    measure on a routine basis, so what is usually
    measured is the plane wave power density.

  • Average whole body SARs can then be calculated
    from the power density exposure In this document
    power density is given in mW/cm-sq (milliwatts
    per square centimeter). Power density can be
    expressed in several other ways
  • W/m-sq (watts per square meter), where 10 W/m-sq
    1 mW/cm-sqµW/cm-sq (microwatts per square
    centimeter), where 1000 µW/cm-sq 1
    mW/cm-sqnW/cm-sq (nanowatts per square
    centimeter), where 1000 nW/cm-sq 1 µW/cm-sq

  • The power density guidelines are stricter for
    some frequencies than for others because humans
    absorb RF radiation more at 860 MHz than at 1800
    MHz, and it is the amount of power absorbed that
    really matters
  • Specifically, the ICNIRP standard is 0.40
    mW/cm-sq at 800 MHz and 0.90 mW/cm-sq at 2000
    MHz, while the NCRP guidelines are 0.57 mW/cm-sq
    and 1.00 mW/cm-sq for these same frequencies.

  • Electromagnetic waves may produce biological
    effects which may sometimes, but not always, lead
    to adverse health effects. It is important to
    understand the difference between the two
  • A biological effect occurs when exposure to
    electromagnetic waves causes some noticeable or
    detectable physiological change in a biological
  • An adverse health effect occurs when the
    biological effect is outside the normal range for
    the body to compensate, and thus leads to some
    detrimental health condition.

  • Fields at frequencies above about 1 MHz primarily
    cause heating by moving ions and water molecules
    through the medium in which they exist. Even very
    low levels of  energy produce a small amount of
    heat, but this heat is carried away by the body's
    normal thermoregulatory processes without the
    person noticing it.
  • A number of studies at these frequencies suggest
    that exposure to fields too weak to cause heating
    may have adverse health consequences, including
    cancer and memory loss.

  • Thermal effects
  • The deposition of RF energy in the human body
    tends to increase the body temperature.
  • During exercise, the metabolic heat production
    can reach levels of 3-5 W/kg. In normal thermal
    environments, an SAR of 1-4 W/kg for 30
    minutes produces average body temperature
    increases of less than 1C for healthy adults.

  • Thus, an occupational RF guideline of 0.4 W/kg
    SAR leaves a margin of protection against
    complications due to thermally unfavourable
    environmental conditions.
  • For the general population, which includes
    sensitive subpopulations, such as infants and
    the elderly, an SAR of 0.08 W/kg would provide an
    adequate further margin of safety against
    adverse thermal effects from RF fields.

What levels of RF energy are considered safe?
  • Various organizations and countries have
    developed standards for exposure to
    radiofrequency energy. These standards recommend
    safe levels of exposure for both the general
    public and for workers.

  • The National Council on Radiation Protection and
    Measurements (NCRP)
  • The Institute of Electrical and Electronics
    Engineers (IEEE).
  • The International Commission on Non-Ionizing
    Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
  • National Council on Radiation Protection and
    Measurements (NCRP)
  • U.S Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
  • The World Health Organization is working to
    provide a framework for international
    harmonization of RF safety standards

Exposure standards
  • The NCRP, IEEE, and ICNIRP all have identified a
    whole-body Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) value
    of 4 watts per kilogram (4 W/kg) as a threshold
    level of exposure at which harmful biological
    effects may occur.

Exposure standards (continued..)
  • In addition, the NCRP, IEEE, and ICNIRP
    guidelines vary depending on the frequency of the
    RF exposure.
  • This is due to the finding that whole-body
    human absorption of RF energy varies with the
    frequency of the RF signal.

Exposure standards (continued..)
  • The most restrictive limits on whole-body
    exposure are in the frequency range of 30-300 MHz
    where the human body absorbs RF energy most
    efficiently. For products that only expose part
    of the body, such as wireless phones, exposure
    limits in terms of SAR only are specified.

Exposure standards (continued..)
  • The exposure limits used by the FCC are expressed
    in terms of SAR, electric and magnetic field
    strength, and power density for transmitters
    operating at frequencies from 300 kHz to 100 GHz.

Exposure standards (continued..)
  • 4 W/kg for 30 minutes would result in a body
    temperature rise of less than 1C. This body
    temperature rise is considered acceptable.
  • A safety factor of 10 is introduced, in order to
    allow for unfavourable, thermal, environmental,
    and possible long-term effects, and other
    variables, thus arriving at a basic limit of 0.4

Implementation of standards
  • Allocation of responsibility for measurements
    of field intensity and interpretation of results
  • Establishment of detailed field protection safety
    codes and guides for safe use

What siting criteria are required to ensure that
a mobile phone base station antenna will meet
safety guidelines?
  • Antenna sites should be designed so that the
    public cannot access areas that exceed the 1992
    ANSI or FCC guidelines for public exposure.
  • As a general rule, the uncontrolled (public)
    exposure guideline cannot be exceeded more than 8
    meters (25 feet) from the radiating surface of
    the antenna.

What siting criteria are required to ensure that
a mobile phone base station antenna will meet
safety guidelines? (continued)
  • If there are areas that exceed the 1992 ANSI or
    FCC guidelines for controlled (occupational)
    exposure, make sure that workers know where these
    areas are, and that they can (and do) power-down
    (or shut down) the transmitters when entering
    these areas.
  • Such areas will be limited to areas within 3
    meters (10 feet) of the antennas

What siting criteria are required to ensure that
a mobile phone base station antenna will meet
safety guidelines? (continued)
  • In general, the above guidelines will usually
    be met when antennas are placed on their own
    towers. Problems, when they exist, are generally
    confined to
  • Antennas placed on the roofs of buildings
    particularly where multiple base station antennas
    for different carriers are mounted on the same

What siting criteria are required to ensure that
a mobile phone base station antenna will meet
safety guidelines? (continued)
  • Antennas placed on structures that require access
    by workers (both for regular maintenance, and for
    uncommon events such as painting or roofing).
    Note that the occupation safety standards for RF
    radiation apply only to workers with appropriate
    RF radiation safety training.
  • Towers that are placed very close to, and lower
    than, nearby buildings.

Specific Antenna Installation Guidelines
  • For roof-mounted antennas, elevate the
    transmitting antennas above the height of people
    who may have to be on the roof.
  • For roof-mounted antennas, keep the transmitting
    antennas away from the areas where people are
    most likely to be (e.g., roof access points,
    telephone service points, HVAC equipment).

Specific Antenna Installation Guidelines(continue
  • For roof-mounted directional antennas, place the
    antennas near the periphery and point them away
    from the building.
  • Consider the trade off between large aperture
    antennas (lower maximum RF) and small aperture
    antennas (lower visual impact).

Specific Antenna Installation Guidelines(continue
  • Remember that RF standards are stricter for
    lower-frequency antennas (e.g., 900 MHz) than for
    higher-frequency antennas (e.g., 1800 MHz).
  • Take special precautions to keep higher-power
    antennas away from accessible areas.

Specific Antenna Installation Guidelines(continue
  • Keep antennas at a site as far apart as possible
    although this may run contrary to local zoning
  • Take special precautions when designing
    "co-location" sites, where multiple antennas
    owned by different companies are on the same
    structure. This applies particularly to sites
    that include high-power broadcast (FM/TV)
    antennas. Local zoning often favors co-location,
    but co-location can provide "challenging" RF
    safety problems.

Work Practices for Reducing RF Radiation Exposure
  • Individuals working at antenna sites should be
    informed about the presence of RF radiation, the
    potential for exposure and the steps they can
    take to reduce their exposure.
  • If radiofrequency radiation at a site can exceed
    the FCC standard for general public/uncontrolled
    exposures, then the site should be posted with
    appropriate signs

Work Practices for Reducing RF Radiation Exposure
  • RF radiation levels at a site should be modeled
    before the site is built.
  • RF radiation levels at a site should be measured.
  • Assume that all antennas are active at all times.

Work Practices for Reducing RF Radiation Exposure
  • Use personal monitors to ensure that all
    transmitters have actually been shut down.
  • "Keep on moving" and "avoid unnecessary and
    prolonged exposure in close proximity to

Work Practices for Reducing RF Radiation Exposure
  • At some site (e.g., multiple antennas in a
    restricted space where some antennas cannot be
    shut down) it may be necessary to use protective
  • Remember that there are many non-RF hazards at
    most sites (e.g., dangerous machinery, electric
    shock hazard, falling hazard), so allow only
    authorized, trained personnel at a site.

How do you assess compliance with RF radiation
guidelines for mobile phone base stations?
  • Compliance can be assessed through measurements
    or calculations. Both methods require a solid
    understanding of the physics of RF radiation.
  • Measurements require access to sophisticated and
    expensive equipment. Calculations require
    detailed knowledge about the power, antenna
    pattern and geometry of a specific antenna.

  • Nothing as simple as distance from an antenna
    site is adequate for assessing compliance or
    estimating exposure levels

Does RF radiation from mobile phones or mobile
phone base stations cause physiological or
behavioral changes?
  • There are un-replicated reports of such effects.
    There are some studies that suggest that RF
    radiation from hand-held mobile phones or mobile
    phone base stations might cause subtle
    biochemical, physiological or behavioral changes.
  • However, none of the studies provides substantial
    evidence that mobile phone base stations might
    pose a health hazard.

  • Learning Concentration and Behavioral disorders
    (e.g attention deficit disorder. ADD)
  • Extreme fluctuations in blood pressure
  • Heart rhythm disorders
  • Heart attacks and strokes among an increasingly
    younger population
  • Brain degenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer's)
  • Cancerous afflictions leukemia, brain tumors

  • Headaches, migrains
  • Chronic exhaustion
  • Inner agitation
  • Sleeplessness, daytime sleepiness
  • Nervous and connective tissue pains, for which
    the usual causes do not explain

Other Computer Related Health Impacts
  • As more and more work, education and recreation
    involves computers, everyone needs to be aware of
    the hazard of Repetitive Strain Injury to the
    hands and arms resulting from the use of computer
    keyboards and mice.

What is RSI?
  • Repetitive Strain Injuries occur from repeated
    physical movements doing damage to tendons,
    nerves, muscles, and other soft body tissues.

What are the Symptoms?
  • Tightness, discomfort, stiffness, soreness or
    burning in the hands, wrists, fingers, forearms,
    or elbows
  • Tingling, coldness, or numbness in the hands
  • Clumsiness or loss of strength and coordination
    in the hands
  • Pain that wakes you up at night
  • Feeling a need to massage your hands, wrists, and
  • Pain in the upper back, shoulders, or neck
    associated with using the computer.

How to Prevent It?
  • Correct typing technique and posture, the right
    equipment setup, and good work habits are much
    more important for prevention than ergonomic
    gadgets like split keyboards or palm rests.

Figure shows proper posture at the computer.

Here are some stretches you can do,
  • Hold the mouse lightly
  • Keep your arms hands warm
  • Eliminate unnecessary computer usage
  • Consider voice recognition.

Health and environmental impacts of disposing
equipments waste
  • In general, computer equipment is a
    complicated assembly of more than 1,000
    materials, many of which are highly toxic

  • According to some estimates there is hardly any
    other product for which the sum of the
    environmental impacts of raw material,
    extraction, industrial, refining and production,
    use and disposal is so extensive as for printed
    circuit boards.
  • In short, the product developers of electronic
    products are introducing chemicals on a scale
    which is totally incompatible with the scant
    knowledge of their environmental or biological

  • The health impacts of the mixtures and material
    combinations in the products often are not known.
  • The production of semiconductors, printed circuit
    boards, disk drives and monitors uses
    particularly hazardous chemicals, and workers
    involved in chip manufacturing are now beginning
    to come forward and reporting cancer clusters.
  • In addition, new evidence is emerging that
    computer recyclers have high levels of dangerous
    chemicals in their blood.

Materials used in a desktop computer and the
efficiency of current recycling processes
Composition of a Desktop Personal Computer Based on a typical desktop computer, weighing 60 lbs. Composition of a Desktop Personal Computer Based on a typical desktop computer, weighing 60 lbs. Composition of a Desktop Personal Computer Based on a typical desktop computer, weighing 60 lbs. Composition of a Desktop Personal Computer Based on a typical desktop computer, weighing 60 lbs. Composition of a Desktop Personal Computer Based on a typical desktop computer, weighing 60 lbs.
Table presented in Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (MCC). 1996. Electronics Industry Environmental Roadmap. Austin, TX  MCC. Table presented in Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (MCC). 1996. Electronics Industry Environmental Roadmap. Austin, TX  MCC. Table presented in Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (MCC). 1996. Electronics Industry Environmental Roadmap. Austin, TX  MCC. Table presented in Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (MCC). 1996. Electronics Industry Environmental Roadmap. Austin, TX  MCC. Table presented in Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (MCC). 1996. Electronics Industry Environmental Roadmap. Austin, TX  MCC.
Name Content  ( of total weight) Weight of material in computer (lbs.) Recycling Efficiency (current recyclability) Use/Location
Plastics 22.9907 13.8 20 includes organics, oxides other than silica
Lead 6.2988 3.8 5 metal joining, radiation shield/CRT, PWB
Aluminum 14.1723 8.5 80 structural, conductivity/housing, CRT, PWB, connectors
Germanium 0.0016 lt 0.1 0 Semiconductor/PWB
Gallium 0.0013 lt 0.1 0 Semiconductor/PWB
Iron 20.4712 12.3 80 structural, magnetivity/(steel) housing, CRT, PWB
Tin 1.0078 0.6 70 metal joining/PWB, CRT
Copper 6.9287 4.2 90 Conductivity/CRT, PWB, connectors
Barium 0.0315 lt 0.1 0 in vacuum tube/CRT
Nickel 0.8503 0.51 80 structural, magnetivity/(steel) housing, CRT, PWB
Zinc 2.2046 1.32 60 battery, phosphor emitter/PWB, CRT
Tantalum 0.0157 lt 0.1 0 Capacitors/PWB, power supply
Indium 0.0016 lt 0.1 60 transistor, rectifiers/PWB
Vanadium 0.0002 lt 0.1 0 red phosphor emitter/CRT
Terbium 0 0 0 green phosphor activator, dopant/CRT, PWB
Beryllium 0.0157 lt 0.1 0 thermal conductivity/PWB, connectors
Gold  0.0016 lt 0.1 99 Connectivity, conductivity/PWB, connectors
Europium 0.0002 lt 0.1 0 phosphor activator/PWB
Titanium 0.0157 lt 0.1 0 pigment, alloying agent/(aluminum) housing
Ruthenium 0.0016 lt 0.1 80 resistive circuit/PWB
Cobalt 0.0157 lt 0.1 85 structural, magnetivity/(steel) housing, CRT, PWB
Palladium 0.0003 lt 0.1 95 Connectivity, conductivity/PWB, connectors
Manganese 0.0315 lt 0.1 0 structural, magnetivity/(steel) housing, CRT, PWB
Silver 0.0189 lt 0.1 98 Conductivity/PWB, connectors
Antinomy 0.0094 lt 0.1 0 diodes/housing, PWB, CRT
Bismuth 0.0063 lt 0.1 0 wetting agent in thick film/PWB
Chromium 0.0063 lt 0.1 0 Decorative, hardener/(steel) housing
Cadmium 0.0094 lt 0.1 0 battery, glu-green phosphor emitter/housing, PWB, CRT
Selenium 0.0016 0.00096 70 rectifiers/PWB
Niobium 0.0002 lt 0.1 0 welding allow/housing
Yttrium 0.0002 lt 0.1 0 red phosphor emitter/CRT
Rhodium 0   50 thick film conductor/PWB
Platinum 0   95 thick film conductor/PWB
Mercury 0.0022 lt 0.1 0 batteries, switches/housing, PWB
Arsenic 0.0013 lt 0.1 0 doping agents in transistors/PWB
Silica 24.8803 15 0 glass, solid state devices/CRT,PWB
Note plastics contain polybrominated flame
retardants, and hundreds of additives and
stabilizers not listed separately.
Risks related to some e-toxics found in computers
  • Lead
  • Lead can cause damage to the central and
    peripheral nervous systems, blood system and
    kidneys in humans.
  • Effects on the endocrine system have also been
    observed and its serious negative effects on
    childrens brain development have been well
  • Lead accumulates in the environment and has high
    acute and chronic toxic effects on plants,
    animals and microorganisms

  • Cadmium
  • Cadmium compounds are classified as toxic with a
    possible risk of irreversible effects on human
  • Cadmium and cadmium compounds accumulate in the
    human body, in particular in kidneys.
  • Cadmium is adsorbed through respiration but is
    also taken up with food.

Risks related to some e-toxics found in computers
Cadmium (continued..)
  • Due to the long half-life (30 years), cadmium can
    easily be accumulated in amounts that cause
    symptoms of poisoning.
  • Cadmium shows a danger of cumulative effects in
    the environment due to its acute and chronic

Risks related to some e-toxics found in computers
Cadmium (continued..)
  • In electrical and electronic equipment, cadmium
    occurs in certain components such as SMD chip
    resistors, infrared detectors and semiconductors.
    Older types of cathode ray tubes contain cadmium.
    Furthermore, cadmium is used as a plastic

Risks related to some e-toxics found in computers
  • Mercury
  • When inorganic mercury spreads out in the water,
    it is transformed to methylated mercury in the
    bottom sediments.
  • Methylated mercury easily accumulates in living
    organisms and concentrates through the food chain
    particularly via fish. Methylated mercury causes
    chronic damage to the brain.

Risks related to some e-toxics found in computers
Mercury (continued..)
  • It is estimated that 22 of the yearly world
    consumption of mercury is used in electrical and
    electronic equipment.
  • It is basically used in thermostats, (position)
    sensors, relays and switches (e.g. on printed
    circuit boards and in measuring equipment) and
    discharge lamps.
  • Furthermore, it is used in medical equipment,
    data transmission, telecommunications, and mobile

Risks related to some e-toxics found in computers
  • Hexavalent Chromium (Chromium VI)
  • Chromium VI can easily pass through membranes of
    cells and is easily absorbed producing various
    toxic effects within the cells.
  • It causes strong allergic reactions even in small
  • Asthmatic bronchitis is another allergic
    reaction linked to chromium VI. Chromium VI may
    also cause DNA damage.

Risks related to some e-toxics found in computers
Hexavalent Chromium (Chromium VI) (continued..)
  • In addition, hexavalent chromium compounds are
    toxic for the environment. It is well documented
    that contaminated wastes can leach from
  • Incineration results in the generation of fly ash
    from which chromium is leach able, and there is
    widespread agreement among scientists that wastes
    containing chromium should not be incinerated.

Risks related to some e-toxics found in computers
  • PVC
  • The use of PVC in computers has been mainly used
    in cabling and computer housings, although most
    computer moldings are now being made of ABS
  • PVC cabling is used for its fire retardant
    properties, but there are concerns that once
    alight, fumes from PVC cabling can be a major
    contributor to fatalities and hence there are
    pressures to switch to alternatives for safety
    reasons. Such alternatives are low-density
    polyethylene and thermoplastic olefins.

Risks related to some e-toxics found in computers
  • Brominated Flame Retardants
  • Brominated flame-retardants are a class of
    brominated chemicals commonly used in electronic
    products as a means for reducing flammability.
  • In computers, they are used mainly in four
    applications in printed circuit boards, in
    components such as connectors, in plastic covers
    and in cables.

Risks related to some e-toxics found in computers
Brominated Flame Retardants (continued..)
  • Various scientific observations indicate that
    Polybrominated Diphenylethers (PBDE) might act as
    endocrine disrupters..
  • Research has revealed that levels of PBDEs in
    human breast milk are doubling every five years
    and this has prompted concern because of the
    effect of these chemicals in young animals.

Risks related to some e-toxics found in computers
Brominated Flame Retardants (continued..)
  • Other studies have shown PBDE, like many
    halogenated organics, reduce levels of the
    hormone thyroxin in exposed animals and have been
    shown to cross the blood brain barrier in the
    developing fetus.
  • Thyroid is an essential hormone needed to
    regulate the normal development of all animal
    species, including humans.

Risks related to some e-toxics found in computers
The Hazards of Incinerating Computer Junk
  • The stream of Waste from Electronic and
    Electrical Equipment (WEEE) contributes
    significantly to the heavy metals and halogenated
    substances contained in the municipal waste

The Hazards of Incinerating Computer Junk
  • Because of the variety of different substances
    found together in electroscrap, incineration is
    particularly dangerous.
  • For instance, copper is a catalyst for dioxin
    formation when flame-retardants are incinerated.
  • This is of particular concern as the incineration
    of brominated flame retardants at a low
    temperature (600-800C) may lead to the
    generation of extremely toxic polybrominated
    dioxins (PBDDs) and furans (PBDFs)

The Hazards of Landfilling Computer Junk
  • It has become common knowledge that all landfills
    leak. Even the best "state of the art" landfills
    are not completely tight throughout their
    lifetimes and a certain amount of chemical and
    metal leaching will occur.
  • The situation is far worse for older or less
    stringent dump sites.

The Hazards of Landfilling Computer Junk
  • Mercury will leach when certain electronic
    devices, such as circuit breakers are destroyed.
  • Not only the leaching of mercury poses specific
    problems. The vaporization of metallic mercury
    and dimethylene mercury, both part of WEEE, is
    also of concern.

The Hazards of Landfilling Computer Junk
  • The same is true for PCBs from condensors. When
    brominated flame retarded plastic or cadmium
    containing plastics are landfilled, both PBDE and
    the cadmium may leach into the soil and
  • It has been found that significant amounts of
    lead ions are dissolved from broken lead
    containing glass, such as the cone glass of
    cathode ray tubes, when mixed with acid waters
    which commonly occur in landfills.

The Hazards of Landfilling Computer Junk
  • In addition, uncontrolled fires may arise at the
    landfills and this could be a frequent occurrence
    in many countries.
  • When exposed to fire, metals and other chemical
    substances, such as the extremely toxic dioxins
    and furans (TCDD -Tetrachloro-dibenzo-dioxin,
    PCDDs, PBDDs and PCDFs - polychlorinated and
    polybrominated dioxins and furans) from
    halogenated flame retardant products and PCB
    containing condensers can be emitted.

The Hazards of Recycling Computer Junk
  • Recycling of hazardous products has little
    environmental benefit it simply moves the
    hazards into secondary products that eventually
    have to be disposed of. Unless the goal is to
    redesign the product to use non-hazardous
    materials, such recycling is a false solution.

  • The European Union is developing a solution that
    will make producers responsible for taking back
    their old products. This legislation which
    includes "take-back" requirements and toxic
    materials phase-outs -- also encourages cleaner
    product design and less waste generation.
  • This is known as Extended Producer

  • The aim of EPR is to encourage producers to
    prevent pollution and reduce resource and energy
    use in each stage of the product life cycle
    through changes in product design and process

  • This includes upstream impacts arising from the
    choice of materials and from the manufacturing
    process as well as the downstream impacts, i.e.
    from the use and disposal of products. However,
    product take-back needs to go hand-in-hand with
    mandatory legislation to phase-out e-toxics.

What the European Union has proposed as a
solution for E-scrap
  • The draft WEEE Directive will phase-out the use
    of mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium and two
    classes of brominated flame-retardants in
    electronic and electrical goods
  • It puts full financial responsibility on
    producers to set up collection, recycling and
    disposal systems.
  • Between 70 to 90 by weight of all collected
    equipment must be recycled or re-used. In the
    case of computers and monitors, 70 recycling
    must be met.

  • "Recycling" does not include incineration, so
    companies wont be able to meet recycling goals
    by burning the waste.
  • For disposal, incineration with energy recovery
    is allowed for the 10 to 30 of waste remaining.
    However, components containing the following
    substances must be removed from any end of life
    equipment which is destined for landfill,
    incineration or recovery
  • lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium, cadmium,
    PCBs, halogenated flame-retardants, radioactive
    substances, asbestos and beryllium.

  • Electronic products should actually be considered
    chemical waste products.
  • Their number is increasing and their life is
  • Electronic waste piles are growing, as is their
    pollution potential.
  • Most of these problems have their source in the
    development and design of the products concerned."

  • Many companies have shown they can design cleaner
    products. Industry is making some progress to
    design cleaner products but we need to move
    beyond pilot projects and ensure all products are
    upgradeable and non-toxic

Sustainable product design asks that we consider
  • 1. Rethink the product design
  • 2. Use renewable materials and energy
  • 3. Use non-renewable materials that are safer
Write a Comment
User Comments (0)