Electronic devices are a complex mixture of several hundred materials. A mobile phone, for example, contains 500 to 1,000 components. Many of these contain toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium and beryllium and hazardous chemicals, such as brominated flame retardants. Polluting PVC plastic is also frequently used.
A migrant child from Henan province holds up a piece of e-waste. It was once a Nokia computer screen, now dumped in China and dismantled by poor, unprotected, migrant workers.
These dangerous substances cause serious pollution and put workers at risk of exposure when the products are produced or disposed of. Of particular concern is the exposure of children and pregnant women to lead and mercury. These metals are highly toxic and can harm children and developing foetuses even at low levels of exposure.
The animations below show what toxic chemicals are hidden in computers and phones. (Flash required) If you want more details on the toxic chemicals in electronics download the report - Dangerous chemicals in electronics products.