Don't smash old television sets, environmentalists warn

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - News - (Cebu Examiner)

CEBU - An environmental watch group has cautioned police authorities in Cebu against smashing confiscated video karera televisions and other electronic gambling devices which may contain large quantities of hazardous substances.

The safety warning from Ecowaste Coalition followed the recent destruction by the police of at least 102 video karera and slot machines using axes and sledgehammers at the Cebu City Police Office.

While lauding the local police for their campaign against illegal gambling activities, the group expressed concern over the presence of hazardous substances in those machines.

“We understand that the confiscated television sets are destroyed for good to prevent their reuse for illegal gambling activities, but this should not be in a manner that will scatter the lead and their other hazardous substances, which can endanger human health and the environment,” said Thony Dizon, coordinator of the Ecowaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

He said analog television units that are often used in illegal gambling business contain huge amounts of lead, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, copper and mercury, and flame retardant chemicals.

Cadmium, lead and mercury belong to top 10 chemicals of major public health concern.

Citing information from the report “Poison PCS and Toxic TVS,” each computer or television display contains an average of 4 to 8 pounds of lead (with the) monitor glass contain(ing) about 20% lead by weight.”

When these components are illegally disposed and crushed in landfills, the lead is released into the environment, posing a hazardous legacy for current and future generation. These heavy metals and other hazardous substances found in electronics can contaminate groundwater and pose other environmental and public health risks.

Dizon said instead of breaking the illegal gambling devices with axes and sledgehammers, he urged police authorities to send the seized items to registered hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal (TSD) facilities for proper dismantling and recycling in controlled conditions.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau has accredited several TSD facilities in the province of Cebu.

Dizon warned that the burning, dumping and unsafe recycling of electronic waste can pose serious health risks to workers, residents and others due to the release of highly toxic pollutants, including dioxins and flame retardant chemicals that can disperse over long distances and remain in the environment for a long time.

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