We know talking on cell phones can be dangerous while driving,
and some people believe using them could be hazardous to your
health. But are they still a concern when they are tossed out and
replaced with newer gadgets? Full Focus reporter Heather Hill has
more on a statewide move to eliminate the environmental dangers of
A bill aimed at getting rid of toxic waste from small, hand-held
electronics is moving its way through the state legislature. The
Senate is now considering the legislation that would require
manufacturers who want to sell their products in California to stop
using certain toxic materials by the year 2010.
Lead, mercury and selenium: probably not what comes to mind when
you think of your cell phone or blackberry. But state legislators
say toxic materials used in the manufacturing of personal
electronics present a serious threat to the environment. In
landfills, the chemicals can seep into the soil and groundwater and
become a health hazard. And the contamination is hard to avoid with
so many electronic devices in circulation.
Lori Saldaña, Assemblywoman, 76th District: Well, if you
prevent these hazardous materials from going into the devices, you
don't have to worry about them in the waste stream at the end and
its much more cost effective to control it at the manufacturing
end than wait until it gets to the consumer end.
Saldaña is pushing the legislation. She wants to protect
Calfornia's landfills from further toxic pollution. But the threat
posed by dangerous toxins in electronics goes far beyond the
At this recycling facility in Vista, over one-and-a-half million
pounds of electronics are recycled each month. Workers say
separating out hazardous materials makes their jobs more
complicated. Special precautions need to be taken to protect
employees -- and ensure individual parts can be safely re-used.
Joleen Burke, E-World Recyclers: Well, if there are
considered to be toxins in a material, it's actually costly for us
to further recycle it. Even if you can get it down to a raw
component.The idea of recycling is that it's going to go into
reuse at some point in time and that it's not going to go into a
landfill. So, if it's already in a state where there's nothing
dangerous within it, then it makes it easier to put it into reuse
in some other items or find other commodities that can be created
from those products.
So what does this all mean for the electronics industry? Saldaña
says California isn't the only place urging manufacturing companies
to change their ways.
Saldaña: Well, initially they were hesitant. We had some
early opposition. But as we worked with them, they realized it is
important to be consistent with other standards of manufacturing
that are developing around the world. So the consistency will be
cost effective to anyone who does manufacturing and sells to a
broader market around the world. This is a good standard for them
to comply with.
If you're looking for a place to get rid of those old, outdated
electronics, visit our website for a list of recycling links. And if
you have an old cell phone, you can drop it off right here at the
Note: Due to our June membership
campaign, Full Focus will not air tonight at 11:00.