Author: Sweet, Matthew
Source: The Independent
Old computers never die. They just leach heavy metals into our drinking water. That's the worst-case scenario, anyway. Some of them just sit in the loft or the shed, quietly accumulating dust and obsolescence. Others - a very, very few - are refurbished or recycled. The vast majority, however, are being buried in the ground. Over a million of the things, each year - and that's a conservative estimate. And if you think that's the best place for them, consider this: each desktop PC unit - the one I'm using to write this, the one your children use for their maths homework - contains up to 18lb of lead (mostly hidden in the monitor's heavily leaded screen). Other toxic substances, too - cadmium, mercury, dioxins - but for the moment, let's concentrate on the lead. You may need a computer to do the sum: 8,165 metric tonnes of poisonous residue spread under the topsoil of the British Isles every 12 months, granulated in a mulch of eggshells, banana skins and mutton bones.