30/05/2008

Digital detritus in the U S.

The Audubon Magazine reveals the extent of e-waste in the United States

In the United States alone, an estimated 197 million computers made this trek between 2000 and 2005, according to the International Association of Electronics Recyclers. But computers are only one tributary feeding this torrent of “e-waste.” Every year Americans “retire” an estimated 130 million cell phones and untold tons of printers, copiers, keyboards, mice, portable media players, VCRs, scanners, and digital cameras.

While some of this detritus languishes in attics and basements, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that each year about two million tons of it are dumped and left to fall apart and leak their toxic innards across the landscape. Discarded electronics comprise 70 percent of heavy metal contamination in the nation’s landfills, a horrifying thought for anyone who worries about public health.