Monday, July 4th, 2022 14:37:30

Hi-Tech Pollution

Updated: March 23, 2013 11:02 am

In this hi-tech age, the gadgets like TVs, cell phones, computers, fax machines have become a part and parcel of our day-to-day life, however, they emit radiations and generate wastes, which could have debilitating impact on environment

 

The hi-tech pollution affects environment, society and individual. The most devastating effect is that the chemicals used in these gadgets, like lead and cadmium in circuit boards, mercury in switches and flat screen monitors, cadmium in computer batteries and PVC cable insulators etc. when heated, release extremely poisonous gases and even their small percentage when mixed in air, could kill people. When these wastes are thrown out or left in a landfill, without being recycled or properly disposed of, some of the toxins seep into ground water. This water when enters into the bodies damage the living organisms. Moreover, they also affect the soil spelling trouble for vegetation. The hi-tech wastes cause serious imbalance in nature.

Pollution literally means ‘impurity’. It is the undesirable addition of some harmful agents to something pure, which makes the latter impure and imperfect for use. It can be considered a side effect of the development in agriculture, industries, science and technology and is thus, a necessary evil of all developments. Today it has become a scare word all over the world. Since long, pollutions like air, water, soil and noise have been matters of great concern. These have disturbed the ecological balance, resulting in desertification, global warming, ozone depletion, droughts, floods, extinction of many life forms etc.

Recently a new type of pollution has emerged, which is hundred times more deleterious than the earlier forms of pollutions, affecting the environment and the individual in every possible way. It is the hi-tech pollution, a by-product of technological development.

This is the hi-tech age, in which the gadgets like TVs, cell phones, computers, fax machines etc. have become a part and parcel of our day-to-day life and it has become impossible for us to survive without them. In addition to making our life more comfortable and luxurious, the gadgets also have many harmful effects. Their excessive use leads to a type of pollution termed as hi-tech pollution.

These gadgets emit radiations and generate wastes, which are toxic electronic wastes (or e-wastes) after they turn out obsolete and useless.

The hi-tech pollution affects environment, society and individual. The most devastating effect is that the chemicals used in these gadgets, like lead and cadmium in circuit boards, mercury in switches and flat screen monitors, cadmium in computer batteries and PVC cable insulators etc. when heated, release extremely poisonous gases and even their small percentage when mixed in air, could kill people. When these wastes are thrown out or left in a landfill, without being recycled or properly disposed of, some of the toxins seep into ground water. This water when enters into the bodies damage the living organisms. Moreover, they also affect the soil spelling trouble for vegetation. The hi-tech wastes cause serious imbalance in nature.

Among these gadgets, the worst enemies of society are the TVs, cell phones and computers. The TVs and computers in addition to imparting us knowledge on every possible matter, keeping us updated and abreast of all the latest developments, including news and information, are also the chief and easiest means of misleading the youths and the children. These have encouraged obscenities and have led to moral degradation in society. The computer games and video games have inculcated violence in children, affecting their creativity and reading habits. The effects of cell phones are even more dangerous. The modern facilities available in cell phones like cameras, bluetooth, MMS etc. have deviated the children and the youths to a large extent. These have increased the number of road accidents as well as crimes. Thus, all these gadgets are more of a curse and less of a boon for society.

These gadgets have endless effects on individuals. Their widespread use has resulted in permanent electro smog, i.e. the occurrence of artificial electromagnetic fields around people which results in heart, nervous and concentration problems. Prolonged exposure to them could lead to the damage of DNA. The cell phones have thermal, genetic and carcinogenic effects on individuals. The radiations from them may lead to problems ranging from headache to brain tumour. They could also lead to sterility in men. The CRT (Cathode-Ray Tube) screens on picture tubes of TVs, computers etc, exit PEMR (Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Radiations) at a close range, disturb the balance of all living cells. The harmful effects of PEMR exist all around the screen and even persist several hours after the gadget has been turned off. Prolonged exposure to CRT screens lead to abnormal general fatigue, neuropsychological disorders, loss of productivity, headache, insomnia, declining ability to concentrate and memorise, aggression and even disturbances in the menstrual cycle. The toxic chemicals entering into the body through the intoxicated ground water lead to nervous disorders, high blood pressure, damage to lungs, kidney and liver and may even cause cancer. Thus, they pose serious health hazards to individuals.

An issue of greatest concern

The hi-tech pollution is an issue of greatest concern because of the day to day increase in the number of hi-tech gadgets resulting in hi-tech or e-wastes. Every year nearly 2.2 million PCs, 3 million fax machines and 6.5 million cell phones are thrown out. Most of them being improperly disposed of. Asia’s economy has been growing 8 per cent annually resulting in the production of nearly 1,50,000 tonnes of e-waste each year. Secondly, neither have we any effective e-waste, recycling technology nor is there any law for the safe management of these wastes. Thus the pollution has been increasing rapidly. But, certain control measure can be taken to check the pollution.

Meanwhile, some of the leading electronic giants, realising this imminent problem, have voluntarily started programmes to take back old equipment with the objective of reusing and recycling whatever is worth, have also started researches to ensure that the future models are easier to recycle. Secondly, at individual level, all should try to minimise the misuse of these gadgets, particularly there should be limitation of use of cell phones, TVs and computers especially by children. We should try to prevent unprotected CRT screens. We should install EMF Bio-shield System set on each VDT (Video Display Terminals) which eliminates all harmful effects of PEMR. We should use cell phones with ALARA (As low As Reasonably Achievable) levels of radiation, try to keep them away from the body and use ear phones to keep the cell phones away from the head.

The hi-tech gadgets are necessary evils. They are environmental, social and hi-tech hazards, but still we are dependent on them as they have become a part of our existence. So, we should use them judiciously so as to prevent the dragon of pollution from engulfing our environment.

By Ashok Pattnaik

 

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