Frequent Questions

Does dumping old TVs pose as much toxic waste as dumping old computers? What about other electronic devices, such as cell phones?

EPA is not aware of any significant difference between color TVs and color computer monitors with respect to the amount of lead; both are generally classified as hazardous waste when disposed, unless they come from households or smaller generators. Recent research conducted at the University of Florida indicates that some other electronic devices such as cell phones and other portable devices may also test hazardous for lead using the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP), depending on the brand and the age of the model. Lead is present in the circuit board in these products.

Based on studies that EPA and others have done to date, there is no reason to believe that U.S. landfills for municipal and industrial waste are unsafe for the disposal of discarded electronics that are not directed to the more environmentally-preferable options of reuse and recycling. While many electronics contain lead and other substances of concern, it does not appear that these substances leach from landfills and contaminate drinking water supplies. With this said, disposal of electronics should be minimized to enable reuse and recycling for resource conservation reasons.
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