Many nations that have enacted laws about electronic waste to help try and keep it out of their landfills or to have them taken to a landfill that is equipped to handle material that is toxic. In electronic waste, also shortened to e-waste, the heavy metals like mercury, lead, and cadmium do pose serious health and environmental risks. Many consumers have been trained to know that cathode ray tubes are dangerous and require special disposal but are not trained to connect cell phones with beryllium. This is heavy metal that is toxic enough that it can cause severe damage to your lungs.
In addition to all of the toxins that electronic waste in the landfill it can also take a very long time to bio-grade, which means that e-waste will be taking up space in a landfill for centuries. What to do with electronic waste is a serious problem. Many companies are taking steps to help reduce the amount of e-waste they have created. Some electronic manufacturers are beginning to take back items when they have outlived their usefulness. This is so any usable items, such as copper, can be removed safely and then disposing of the rest safely. Unfortunately there is a lot of unwanted electronics are being shipped to the Third World from the first world. It is sometimes shipped under the guise of humanitarian reasons. For example if a person has a slow laptop they may have it sent overseas because even slow it can make a big difference to someone in Africa.
Many times this is electronic waste that comes in a broken, unusable state so the people have to harvest any usable materials from the donated equipment like valuable metals. Because many of them do not know how to handle these dangerous materials they expose everyone to toxic chemicals and metals causing birth defects, crop deficiencies and more.