Monday, May 31, 2010

Eco hazards of cellphones

In India today, one of the fastest growth categories of durables is cell phones. New age icons for connectivity, cell-phones are fast replacing landlines as basic communication device. But apart from being a basic communication device, cell phone is also an entertainment source, a mass media device, a fashion accessory, all rolled into one. The resultant boom in the cell phone market in India has made India the fastest growing cell phone market in the world.

In the euphoria of the boom, nobody has paused to consider the eco hazards of cell phones. We are creating a Frankenstein who is likely to gobble us up, if not controlled and in time. Enough has been written about the hazards of EMR emitted by cell phones. These radiations emitted by cell phone and phone towers are exactly on the same frequency as microwaves. Continuous exposure to these radiations can lead to several health hazards related to reproductive system, central nervous system or even cancer. A recent survey done in Delhi by a leading media house, shows that most of the schools and hospitals in the capital are radiation unsafe zones. Even the major venues for CWGs are radiation unsafe. (Read for details :-'Delhiites+living+under+cellphone+radiation+threat'.html)

The Delhi government has reacted and said that it will take control of the situation by pulling down illegal phone towers. That will be a very temporary impact solution. Radiations for the phones in Delhi will focus on the balance towers. And gradually the towers pulled down by the government will come back. Actually, like most other eco problems, this cannot be solved by the government alone. Unless an average phone user realizes the problem and rations cell phone usage as much as possible, EMRs cannot be controlled.

Then there is the less spoken of hazard of discarding cell phones. With lifecycle of cell phones coming down to 6 months or so, even considering second hand sale / resale of handsets, we are generating lots of handset garbage which is discarded away. Cell-phones contain elements like cadmium, lead, lithium, arsenic, mercury and beryllium, which are a potential threat to the eco system if not discarded properly. Lots of cell phones are discarded by just throwing away, wherein these hazardous elements in the cell phones come into direct contact with earth’s eco system. Some of their elements become toxic over time or when they are in contact with water over long time. The immediate impact is contamination of the earth and any water source that may come in contact with the cell phone waste.

Proper disposal of cell phones is an easy way to ensure that that is eco hazard is avoided. Proper disposal would just mean that the discarded cell phones are broken down and re-cycled as much as possible. Whatever elements cannot be re-cycled should then be discarded in a way that they do not get in contact with eco system. Handset manufacturers who are raking in the moolah because of the cell phone boom, owe it to the humanity to focus on the eco hazards of cell phones.

Written by Shubhra Misra

1 comment:

  1. That's why some people believe in 'playing it safe' ... email-email-email. Good news? Email. Bad news? Email. No news? Still Email :-)