December 28th, 2021 | Updated on June 28th, 2022
By this point, everyone is probably familiar with recycling and how important it is to our environment.
Every week, you probably collect your papers and plastics and place them outside for collectors to take away for proper disposal.
Well, the same applies to electronics. Everything electronic that you own probably has some metal or other element in it that would become harmful if it got into a landfill or other place in the environment and spent enough time there.
Over time, those elements can start leaching out and into the soil, where the pollution starts and spreads.
Yes, there are plenty of e-waste recyclers out there working hard to do the right thing for the Earth, but they need your help. We all need to do our part.
But first, some education: what are the environmental effects of e-waste pollution? Let’s get into it.
1. Groundwater Pollution
Groundwater pollution is at the top of most lists of e-waste hazards, and for good reason. Electronic waste that’s thrown away may ultimately end up in a landfill in the United States or, often, in some developing country that doesn’t have the same refuse standards that developed countries have.
If computer parts end up in a poorly maintained landfill somewhere, their metals can seep into groundwater and ultimately come to poison the local groundwater with nickel, cadmium, and lead.
If humans or animals drink that water, they can become sick with diseases such as cancer. That’s reason enough to start recycling.
2. Soil Pollution
As you might expect, if e-waste can pollute groundwater, it can pollute soil, as well. Those same heavy metals and other hazardous materials from broken-down electronics can seep out into the Earth and poison the soil.
That can harm or kill the plants, trees, and other vegetation in that particular ecosystem, thereby taking whole populations down with them.
Those green areas would probably die, and animals that called those areas home would have to relocate or become lost.
None of this is good for the environment.
3. Air Pollution
Finally, you guessed it: air pollution follows from e-waste in landfills, too. Why? It’s because landfills often burn garbage to get rid of it, and when the poison components of electronics are burned, they release those chemicals and other materials into the air.
Not only are those fumes harmful to breathe, but they can contribute to the Earth’s greenhouse effect, which warms up the planet in the ongoing climate change crisis.
Overall, e-waste ending up in a landfill is a recipe for all kinds of hazards to the environment and human and animal health. Recycling is the responsible way to help prevent this.
Recycling also makes you feel better about getting rid of your old devices. Instead of having them sit around your house, taking up room, why not give them to someone in need or have them turned back into manufacturing parts? At least these things keep them out of the Earth, where they would do the most harm.