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Dumping cellphones a health hazard

Posted on August 4, 2016 by Vauxhall Advance

By Nikki Jamieson
Vauxhall Advance

Cellphones weren’t made for dumps.

That’s what the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association was stressing, when they informed Vauxhall town council about their cellphone recycling program, Recycle My Cell. In a letter addressed to Vauxhall Mayor Margaret Plumtree, dated June 9 and received on June 21, they asked that Vauxhall support the program. Council received the letter for information during their regular July 18 meeting.

According to the letter, there are two ways that the town can support the national program; the first is to provide information to fellow Vauxhallites on drop-off sites (485 in Alberta), where to find these sites, information on how to delete personal information from the old cell and answers to frequently asked questions, among others.

The second way the town can support REC is by registering to host a drop-off site themselves.

Currently, residents of Vauxhall can drop their electronics off to be recycled at the local bottle depot. They work with the Alberta Electronic Recycling program to handle the disposing of electronics, and while they tend to see more TVs, computers and fax machines come in, they do see the odd cellphone at times.

“A lot of people still use older cellphones — you can recycle parts out of them, the batteries, things like that,” said Rasheel Kumar, manager of the Vauxhall Bottle Depot.”You keep them out of the landfills, right? You’re recycling the parts out of it, and it can go to good use.”

“I see a lot of different things come to my shop here. So, it’s either it comes here or goes straight to the dump or trash-site we have outside of town.”

Many cellphones have components in them that are composed of toxic materials such as arsenic, lithium, cadmium, copper and lead.

While these materials may not pose an immediate health risk to use, the danger is in when we discard them. When disposed of improperly — such as simply tossing one in a trash can and it goes to the dump — these materials can leach into the surrounding earth, air and groundwater. Ultimately, this will contaminate the air we breathe, the water we drink and work it’s way into the food chain, causing a litany of health problems.

By taking your old cell in somewhere to be recycled, this ensures that these toxins are properly disposed of in a safe manner.

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