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					Toxic Chemicals Resulting From The
 Disposal Of Electronic Equipment


   Emerging Pollutants Workshop
          August 11, 2003
A growing waste stream
 Nearly 250 million computers will become
  obsolete in the next 5 years.
 By the year 2005, one computer will
  become obsolete for each new one put on
  the market.
 Mobile phones will be discarded at a rate
  of 130 million per year by 2005, resulting in
  65,000 tons of waste.
                                        • U.S. EPA
Potential Environmentally Relevant
Chemicals
 Antimony                Chromium
 Arsenic                 Lead
 Beryllium               Mercury
 Bismuth                 Nickel
 Brominated Compounds    Silver
 Cadmium                 Organo-tin compounds
 Copper                  PCBs
 Zinc sulfide            PVC
Mercury
 Up to 50 mg in bulbs for backlighting


 It is estimated that 22% of the yearly world
  consumption of Hg is used in electrical and
  electronic equipment – RETRO SYTEMS Calgary


Lead
CRT + solder = avg. 4 lbs
Beryllium
Brush Wellman largest producer
  »Sells mainly to businesses in the computer,
   telecommunications, and automotive
   electronics industries
  »U.S. Government was largest customer prior to
   the end of the Cold War
    —   Congress enacted legislation to compensate
        weapons workers with chronic beryllium disease
Current
end-of-life
management options

  Stockpile
  Recycle
  Incinerate
  Landfill
Current stockpile - California
 Percent of households
  that stockpile
   » Televisions: 18.5 percent
   » Computer monitors: 19.4
     percent
            California Integrated Waste
            Management Board – MGT
            of America, Inc.

 NSC estimates ¾ of all
  computers ever sold in
  U.S. remain stockpiled
Recycling
 In 2001, 11% of PCs retired in the U.S.
   were recycled
Recycling
Envirocycle processes over 1,000 tons of
  material per week.
 Processes:
  »Grinding
  »Shredding
  »Manual disassembly
  »Metal reclamation
  »Glass cutting
Typical E-scrapping dismantling operation. 100,000 such migrant workers labor in
 Guiyu breaking down imported computers in hundreds of small operations like
   this one in a 4 village area surrounding the Lianjiang River. Guiyu, China.
                December 2001. Copyright Basel Action Network.
Recycling
 Woman about to smash a
  cathode ray tube from a
  computer monitor in order
  to remove the copper
  laden yoke at the end of
  the funnel. Monitor glass
  is later dumped in
  irrigation canals and
  along the river where it
  could leach lead into the
  groundwater (Guiyu,
  China)

                          December 2001. Copyright Basel Action Network.
Incineration
 Plastic has high BTU value used in cement
 kilns as fuel


 Energy Recovery
Landfilling

 More than 3.2 million
  tons of electronic
  waste is laid to rest in
  landfills each year
             – U.S. EPA
Landfilling
 ~70% of heavy metals (mercury, cadmium)
 found in landfills comes from electronic
 discards
         • Global Futures Foundation (grant from Region IX)


 Consumer electronics constitute 40% of
 lead found in landfills in MN.
         • Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance,
Discussion Questions:
Are the Risks Quantifiable?
 Prediction - 315 million obsolete computers by
  2005 (National Safety Council).
   » Each year, 57 million computers and TVs are sold
   » 20 to 24 million added to storage.
 315 million computers =
   » 1.2 billion pounds of lead
   » 400,000 pounds of mercury
   » 1.2 million pounds of chromium
   » 1.9 million pounds of cadmium
Are the Risks Quantifiable?
 Inhalation of beryllium dust or vapor can cause a
  chronic lung disease at concentrations as low as
  0.01 g/m3
  » 10 workers at Noranda, Inc., one of the world’s largest electronics
    recyclers, diagnosed with chronic beryllium disease

 Beryllium exposure and dose response data are
  needed
  » In 2001 emphasized by William Perry, OSHA’s Deputy
    Director of Health Standards
              • Chicago Tribune, July 29, 2001
 Sediment and water sample results
 along Lianjiang River
 (Guiyu, China)




Site along riverside where circuit boards were treated with acid and burned openly. Massive amounts of
 dumping of imported computer waste takes place along the riverways. Guiyu, China. December 2001.
                                    Copyright Basel Action Network.
Sample results
SVTC, BAN, Exporting Harm: High-Tech Trashing of Asia, p. 45, 2002


    Metal                     Sample                  EPA Region 4
                                                      Sediment Screening
                                                      Benchmark
    Cadmium                   360 mg/kg               1 mg/kg
    Chromium                  70 mg/kg                52.3 mg/kg
    Copper                    136,000 mg/kg           18.7 mg/kg
    Lead                      17,700 mg/kg            30.2 mg/kg
    Mercury                   <0.1 mg/kg              0.13 mg/kg
    Nickel                    580 mg/kg               159 mg/kg
    Silver                    150 mg/kg               2 mg/kg
    Zinc                      11,400 mg/kg            124 mg/kg

            Sample was taken in a pile of blackened material of unknown origin just
            a few feet from the river. Samples analyzed by the Hong Kong
            Standards and Testing Centre, Ltd.
What are the research needs?
 Where does the waste go?
 When are hazardous substances
 released?
  »Recycling: vapors, dust, liquid release
  »Incineration: air emissions
  »Landfilling: leaching
 Monitoring of releases during processing
What are the research needs?
 Insufficient toxicity data available on liquid
  crystal toxicity
  » Almost 400 different types of liquid crystal compounds
    in use for displays
    —   polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, halogenated aromatic
        hydrocarbons

 Substance interaction associated with
  incineration
 Effects of low dose exposure to many
  substances over time
Research needs?
 Environmental impact of alternatives to
 toxics used
  » EU RoHS – from July 1, 2006, new equipment put on
    market does not contain lead, mercury, cadmium,
    hexavalent chromium, polybrominatd biphenyls or
    polybrominated diphenyl ethers
    —   Exemptions for certain uses
Research needs?
 Semiconductor Industry
  »Lawsuits alleging chemical exposures caused
   cancer, birth defects, miscarriages
  »Common Sense Initiative – compare health
   records maintained by State of Ca. to
   employment records in an effort to find any
   increased incidence of chronic illness
    —   Never went beyond discussion
What are the risk management
options?
 Disclosure of hazards
 Material selection
 Proper handling
 Controlled pre-treatment

				
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