The indiscriminate dumping of the glass video component of old television or computer monitor on the street poses hazards to public health and the environment and should be avoided.
The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental health organization, aired this warning after finding discarded cathode ray tubes (CRTs) abandoned on the sidewalks or street dumps, particularly in Makati and Manila Cities.
"The CRTs of old-style TVs and computer monitors are laden with huge amounts of lead and other hazardous chemicals. If handled and disposed of without care, the glass panel, which is lined with lead, will break and contaminate the surroundings," said Primo Morillo, E-Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
Aside from lead, CRTs contain a host of other chemicals of concern, including antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, mercury, nickel phosphor, and rare earth metals, which can be discharged into the environment if the CRTs are recklessly left out on the street or dumped elsewhere.
Lead, in particular, is a cumulative toxicant that can damage the nervous, blood, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, renal and reproductive systems in humans, and is considered one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern” by the World Health Organization.
"Careless handling and disposal will cause the lead and other toxic components of a CRT to be released out of the tube, polluting the air, water and soil. This is why we cannot simply throw CRTs on the side of the road. Like any other electronic waste, or e-waste, CRTs must be managed in an environmentally sound manner," he said.
Morillo also added that even the plastic casings of old TVs contain highly toxic chemicals. He explained, “CRTs form part of the country’s growing e-waste containing extremely toxic substances such as the polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) on CRTs’ plastic casings. PBDEs, which are used as flame retardants in electric and electronic equipment, are among the newly listed chemicals targeted for global elimination under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) of which the Philippines is a state party.”
"To prevent their hazardous contents from polluting the air that we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat, we need to keep CRTs and other e-waste safely handled, stored, recycled, or disposed of,” Morillo emphasized.
“Breaking, dismantling and recycling CRTs in uncontrolled conditions, and causing their disposal on the streets, creeks, dumps and landfills are dangerous for waste workers and communities, and is, in fact, illegal,” he added.
Morillo also noted that the government through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is undertaking a project that will ensure the safe disposal through encapsulation of some 225 tons of leaded glass panels from about 50,000 CRT monitors.
Supported by the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the said project seeks the safe management of some 1.15 tons of PBDEs in CRTs, as well as 600 tons of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) oil and PCB-contaminated electric transformers.
“To curb pollution and protect human health, we need to improve public awareness of the negative impacts of the unsafe disposal of e-waste and support policies and programs towards the environmentally sound management of this growing waste stream,” Morillo concluded.