Study Says Cell Phones Pose Pollution Risk

New York -- Inform Inc., an environmental research organization, has published a report finding that within three years, Americans will discard approximately 130 million cell phones per year, which translates to about 65,000 tons of trash.

Phones contain toxic metals such as arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, copper and nickel, and the report found that a majority of used wireless phones wind up in landfills instead of being recycled.

According to the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA), the cell phone industry's trade group, there are more than 135 million people currently registered as cell phone users, and the number is growing.

By 2005, there will be at least 200 million cell phones in use throughout the country and another 500 million older cell phones still in use, according to the study. Inform has urged the industry to expand measures to reduce the amount of phones that are thrown away by developing more recycling takeback programs and adopt industrywide technical and design standards. The CTIA, however, disagrees with an industrywide standard, stating that the wireless industry was built on competition between standards and carriers.

California, Massachusetts and Minnesota are among a few states currently considering legislation that would force producer responsibility laws that would make manufacturers pay the cost of managing electronic product waste, including cell phones.