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Effects of the Demand for Modern Technology on the Environment

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 1325 words Published: 9th Aug 2021

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The demand for modern technology has affected how minerals and metals are obtained, used and the health of the environment. The following report will be focusing only on mobile phones. In 2018 more than 1.56 billion smartphones were sold worldwide, but only 12.5% of e-waste is currently recycled. Figure 1. Shows a table of how many phones were bought in 2007 – 2018. Toxic chemicals leak into the soil, when they get trashed and end up in landfill and can severially  . (Statista n.d.)

Figure 1. is a table showing the increase of mobile phones bought in 2007 -2018.

Figure 1. Trends of how many mobile phones were bought.

Mobile phones are made from a variety materials. The main two materials the will be focused on is  Aluminium Alloy and Lithium. Aluminium is found in the earths crust, and it is the most common metal found. Gibbsite, Boehmite and diaspore are the the minerals Aluminium is obtained from. (Minerals Education Coalition). Aluminium is the most common metal, but it does not occur as a metal in its natural state. Aluminum ore (bauxite) must first be mined then chemically refined through the Bayer process to produce an intermediate product

(The Aluminium Association n.d.) Lithium is combined with aluminum and magnesium to make light-weight alloys.  It is mined from pegmatite and recovered from the mineral spodumene, and to lesser extent, amblygonite, lepidolite and petalite.”(Minerals Education Coalition).

Minerals are formed through crystallisation; one of the two ways minerals form is by crystallisation of magma (cools inside the crust) or lava (cools & hardens on the surface). When rocks first form, they form as an Igneous rock. Igneous rocks form the the cooling of magma. Over time the Igneous rocks erode and get weathered, that forms sediments. Under Compaction and cementing you get a Sedimentary rock. Figure 2. Shows a diagram of the rock cycle.

Figure 2. Is a diagram of the rock cycle.

Figure 2. Rock Cycle Diagram

The disposal of mobile phones impacts the environment greatly.  (Alex Mitchel 2017) If thrown away, it will go to a landfill where it will remain. As many elements of the phone does not decompose, the level of harmful toxins increases and so does the potential damage.

Bauxite mining is not only bad towards the environment, but also the health of the population. “Environmental pollution due to Bauxite mining remains a concern not only because of direct pollution, but also to detrimental short and long term affects” (Nordin R 2017) Bauxite mining has  a direct impact on the environment by polluting air, water sources and soil.

The main concern of Bauxite polluting air is it releases airborne particulate matter due to mining. Most of the surface water consists of lakes, ponds and rivers. They closely interact with soil and rocks. “Water contamination by bauxite mining activities, especially drinking water sources, has the potential to cause harm due to components such as iron and aluminium as well as other toxic heavy metals found in trace amounts (arsenic, cadmium, lead, nickel, manganese and mercury).” (Nordin R 2017)  

Bauxite-contaminated soil can be detrimental to health, as its contents can contaminate soil and water sources. “In many countries and regions, vegetables are exposed to heavy metals by various means, thus vegetable consumption can cause adverse health effects.” (Nordin R 2017)  

Recycling aluminum does have environmental impacts. When recycling aluminium it produces many toxic chemicals that get released into the air. Furthermore, recycling aluminum produces a waste product called “dross” that is highly toxic and has to be buried in landfills. Recycling aluminium also can cause health impacts. “When melting aluminium furans get released. It may be one of the worst toxic pollutants in the air.” (David H n.d.)

They are known to cause many health problems in humans, including liver damage, certain types of cancer, skin disorders, neurological problems and immune system impairment.

To conclude, the claim ‘The demand for modern technology has not affected how minerals and metals are obtained and used, or the health of the environment.’ Is refuted. The demand for modern technology has changed the way minerals and metals are obtained and used, and it has also affected the health of the environment. One of the best ways to reduce e-waste is to keep your electronics well maintained. If you keep them well maintained that would increase their life. If you have ‘dead’ electronic you need to recycle and dispose of your electronic/e-waste properly. You can find electronic recycling programs in your local area and dispose of your electronics there or some electronic brands have given the option to customers to recycle old electronics. By doing the suggested it can save a lot of energy and reduce the need for mining of new raw resources or manufacturing new parts.

 Figure 3. Is showing the process of mining Bauxite in a flow chart form.

Figure 3. The process of mining bauxite in a flow chart.

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