Cell Phones and Their Effect on the Environment


Authored by Jaipi Sixbear in Environment
Published on 12-22-2009

It’s time we started thinking about cell phones and their effect on the environment. Nearly every American household has at least one cell phone. The chemicals and metals used to manufacture cell phones are highly toxic. Other cell phone factors have a negative effect on the environment as well. Are we putting the environment at risk with our love of cell phones? What is it about cell phones that rings the alarm bells of the Eco-friendly?


Add cell phones to the list of electronics polluting our landfills. Chemicals used to make cell phones include such toxins as lead, arsenic and mercury. True, cell phones contain small amounts of these chemicals. Also true, over 140 million cell phones are disposed of in landfills annually. That makes for a lot of toxins leeching into our groundwater. As cell phone use increases, their effect on the environment increases.


Toxins are not the only negative effect cell phones have on the environment. Don’t forget, cell phones are not exactly biodegradable. Like all electronics, cell phones are made up of plastic and metal parts. These parts will become a permanent fixture of the landfill. The average life span of a cell phone is 18 months. This means an individual could throw away as many as 40 cell phones in their lifetime. Multiply that by the number of users and this creates an astounding environmental effect.


Keep in mind the number of accessories needed for each cell phone. Every time we upgrade to a new cell phone there are multiple accessories to buy. This is because accessories are not always interchangeable. All those useless accessories wind up in the landfill as well. Some landfills have regulations concerning acceptance of electronics. Unfortunately, accessories for cell phones are quite small and could be concealed within regular trash bags.

Towers and Radiation

Cell phone towers effect the environment too. Radiation from cell phone towers can effect the health of animals and insects. Farmers have noticed strange behavior from animals grazing in fields near cell phone towers. Some scientists believe cell phone towers may be responsible for confusing the homing instinct of bees and leading to their death. Bees are responsible for pollinating the very food that we eat. Their demise effects our food chain.


Studies concerning cell phone use and our health contradict each other. Try a little common sense experiment. Place four cell phones around a pile of popcorn seeds. Call the phones. The popcorn will pop from the microwaves. Forget about the effect of cell phones on the environment. What is that radiation doing to our brains? Common sense tells us that if cell phones emit enough radiation to cause popcorn to pop, there is likely an impact on our health.

What to Do

What can we do to lesson the effect of cell phones on the environment? Of course, we can give up cell phone use altogether. This is not likely to happen. What we can do is limit our cell phone upgrades and use phones as long as possible. Rather than throwing used phones away, look for places to recycle or donate them. In order to cut health risks, use headphones and restrict cell phone use for kids. All these things can cut down on the environmental impact of cell phones.

Cell phone use is becoming more popular and having an effect on the environment. Toxins in cell phones can leech into our water supply from landfills. Landfills are full of these non-biodegradable cell phones and accessories. Cell phones can negatively effect the environment of animals and insects. Radiation from cell phones is bad for our health. Take steps to curb the environmental effect of cell phones today by being conservative, recycling and using headsets. Discourage young children from cell phone use.


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