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Electrical Goods and Pollution in the Home

By: Helena Stratford - Updated: 10 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Electrical Goods Electric Pollution Home

We all use a fair amount of electrical goods each day – indeed, it is hard to see how we could ever do without them.But although they make our lives more comfortable, entertaining and fast, they also cause huge amounts of damage to the environment.

Polluting Our Homes With Too Much Stuff

Each year we will discard over 1 million mobile phones, TVs, computers and other electrical gadgets – and the number is growing like never before.

Because we are all seduced into wanting the latest model of this or that, and as cheap Asian labour make electrical goods more and more affordable, we consume, and then chuck away, vast quantities every day.

Just by bringing them into our homes in the first place, we are adding to the problem of pollution in a greater sense. This is because huge resources of energy and raw materials go into the manufacture of electrical goods, thereby contributing to climate change, and their disposal and reclamation poses an increasing challenge.

Chemicals Used In Electrical Goods

Many chemicals are used in the manufacture of electronic goods. These include harmful heavy metals such as cadmium, mercury and lead as well as brominated flame retardants, some of which are known to be hormone disrupters and contaminating water and wildlife in increasing measures.

These chemicals find their way into the environment, mainly due to leakage into the ground once the items are dumped in landfills, releasing harmful dioxins but in some instances (as thought to possibly be the case for PBDE flame retardants), can also enter the human blood stream through direct handling of the product.

Electricity Use

The use of electricity can be enormous in each home – particularly by household appliances which are in constant use such as freezers and fridges.

With the advance of the communication and Wi-Fi age, we are also more likely to leave our computers on for most of the day, or our mobile phones plugged in.

Whilst turning things off and reducing use is to be encouraged, other things can also be done to help cut down the use of electricity in the home such as choosing smaller, energy-efficient models and opting for less energy intensive methods such as drying clothes in the air rather than using the tumble-dryer or switching to a cold water wash rather than hot when doing the laundry.

Chemical Stripping

Reports by environmental engineers from the University of Texas, Austin, have found that dishwashers and showers add to pollution in the home by stripping the chemicals from the water they process and transferring it to indoor air. The process is known as volatilisation and chemicals such as components of gasoline, chlorine, and radon have been found in the air because of it.

To help reduce pollution in the home from these electrical goods, keep your home well ventilated.

Electromagnetic Fields

Electrical items produce an invisible vibrating electromagnetic field. Some people consider this field to be harmful to health, and although a controversial issue, protagonists argue that prolonged exposure can lead to alterations of the immune system, the brain, central nervous system, and cell growth.

The condition most often associated with electromagnetic pollution is that of childhood leukaemia although reported symptoms also include other reactions such as fatigue, lethargy, loss of concentration, anxiety, depression, and dizziness. There is a wealth of information available on this subject for you to make up your own mind.

Responsible Use

By thinking more about the way you buy, use, and dispose of electrical goods, you can not only cut down pollution in the home, but improve your health and that of the environment as well.

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