Why is the correct disposal of old cell phones an important issue?
Recent reports indicate that many endangered species are dwindling because of high demand for a radioactive mineral called coltan that is used to make cellular phones, computers and other electronic devices. The main area where coltan is mined is the same area as the Kahuzi Biega National Park, home of the mountain gorilla. Gorilla habitats are becoming scarce and the miners are killing the gorillas for food. Because of this, the gorilla population has decreased more than half.Philadelphia Zoo also runs a similar cell phone program called "Return The Call Of The Wild".
Cell phones contain many toxic substances, such as arsenic and cobalt. In landfills, toxins often escape into the environment, contaminating natural resources and polluting wildlife habitat. These poisons can travel through animal and human food chains causing birth defects, neurological damage and cancer.We first mentioned the cell phone coltan issue back in August 2004.
The Philadelphia Zoo receives cash back on all recycled cell phones, some of which are re-used as emergency phones for victims of domestic abuse or redistributed into developing markets such as Latin America for first-time, low-income users.