Smartphones and laptops are chemical warehouses. We need better management of dangerous chemicals that emit all kinds of toxins.
Scientist Josh Lebowski stated that “one of the best places environmental chemists look for previously unknown chemical contaminants is not in ‘environment’ or ‘nature’ but in the remains of previously manufactured goods, especially discarded electronics.”
Josh explained to me on our podcast, “It can be somewhat surprising to learn that we have so little understanding of the galaxy of chemicals that make up all of our everyday products that surround us in our homes.” There are millions of different chemicals available for industrial use, but only on the order of thousands have their toxicity ever been tested. Environmental toxicologists, while searching for alarming new toxins, found a previously unknown chemical toxin, not in some undiscovered cave, but in dust from electronic recycling facilities.
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Toxicity abounds in the chemical galaxy
“There are so many chemicals available for industrial use that they completely exceed all testing capacity on Earth to keep up with the number of new chemicals. There is literally no way of knowing just how pervasive the chemical galaxy we find ourselves increasingly living in.”
It’s hard to believe that our smartphones and laptops are chemical warehouses and that when they become electronic waste (as most will do), they can function as chemical plants, produce new forms of dangerous chemicals and, like decaying little nuclear reactors, emit all kinds of toxins;
“Nuclear waste has an amazing perception to go with it, in part because of the amazing accidents that have taken place,” Josh says. “This somehow explains why we see nuclear waste as somewhat special. But you are absolutely right. It is important for us to understand that many, many ordinary everyday things that are part of a lot of our lives (TVs, phones, etc.) are made of Permanent materials from a geological point of view.
According to Josh, they will persist long after anything recognizable as contemporary society, and perhaps even humans as a race, he adds.
“Plastics don’t degrade over timescales that have anything to do with human ages,” Josh says. “It’s the same with the other materials from which our devices are made. So, in many ways, that kind of strange or special feeling that goes along with something like nuclear waste gets incorporated into many of the things that you and I deal with in a daily way. Even as we speak The earbuds around my head are made of plastic and metal that will last for thousands of years.”
Related article: Digital and its ethereal dream is a lie
Cannot contain chemical and electronic blender in operation
We are blind to the chemical and electronic world that we have created. We have developed tremendous creativity and a pathetic understanding of what we have created and how to properly care for it. “Even in the United States, the country that monitors the most pollutant emissions, less than 1% of all chemicals tested are traced back and found to be toxic,” Josh explained.
We should be more aware of what we’re making. If we want a future on this planet, we must take better care of nature, and that means respecting its materials, preserving it, and cleaning it up after ourselves without leaving a trace.
We should not follow silly lies like Net Zero, but rather focus on more practical and useful ideas like Zero Waste.
#Laptops #smartphones #chemical #reactors