In response to the October 4 Perspectives column by Charles Cooper, "Tech's toxic sellout
You are certainly right about the need for recycling
e-waste. Recycling e-waste makes environmental sense for
preservation of resources. But you are completely off base in your assertions
about the danger of "lead, cadmium and mercury" in our
Our environment already has residual lead from 50
years of tetraethyl lead in fuel, lead-acid batteries and CRTs (cathode-ray tubes). Yet lead poisoning is almost nonexistent, according to all the statistics. U.S. blood levels of
lead have been declining drastically ever since leaded fuel was banned (in the U.S.), starting in 1976. (Do you
know anyone with elevated lead in their blood? Do you know
anyone who died or was sickened by lead poisoning?)
I believe that some so-called environmentalists
think that they can make a case for reaching out
irresponsibly to ban everything that they perceive as
hazardous. But true environmentalists consider the
big picture. They ask: 1) What are the total impacts
on the Earth's ecosystems?; 2) What are the
alternative materials and their impacts, including
toxicity?; 3) What are the impacts on economics and
reliability of electronic equipment?
Demonizing lead in all applications is an example of
unreason. That is what the people of Aspen, Colo.
discovered two decades ago.
By the way, as you may know, CRTs with their three or so
pounds of lead are banned from most landfills. I did
my bit in agitating for this ban in the Palo Alto, Calif.
dump. Printed circuit boards have ounces. In the
dump, that lead is bound up in insoluble sulfates,
oxides and chlorides. One really has to work hard to
make them leach--and even if they do leach a trace,
there is no real danger to water, to life, to people.
(I'd like to see the proof to the contrary.)
Palo Alto, Calif.