The dangers of improper disposal of telecommunications materials

27 February 2009 at 18:02 | 788 views

By Ibrahim Babatunde Sesay,PV Correspondent, Freetown.

Technological advancement is no doubt accelerating development across the globe. But this has come at a very huge cost in terms of environmental degradation which poses significant health hazards to consumers.

However, manufacturers have been very fair enough to inscribe warnings on their products with a view to reducing the high risk of contracting ailments with adverse health effects. Our Science & Technological News Editor Ibrahim Babatunde Sesay now reports.

The reason is that assorted chemicals and minerals are used to manufacture telecommunications products and these if not properly disposed of upon expiration as advised by the manufacturers have the tendency to contaminate the atmosphere and cause atrocious health hazards.


Warning signs accompanied by instructions are clearly indicated on telephones in general explaining appropriate disposal. As a matter of fact this is the responsibility of service providers who import the products into the country. The warning stipulates that once telephones or their accessories are expired they should be assembled and deposited elsewhere for the purpose of recycling. Is that the case here when, for instance, mobile phone batteries expire? No. People just dump them everywhere unaware of the consequences they face.

The Telecommunications Act, 2006 states: “The Commission may establish technical standards applicable to telecommunications equipment, including customer premises equipment, so as to ensure against damage to telecommunication network or services or to public health, safety or the environment.”

How far have authorities concerned gone in implementing the above provision to the letter in order to protect the environment and safeguard public health? That is the million dollar question. Most Sierra Leoneans can attest to the fact that they have never been warned as to the improper disposal of certain gadgets and other telecommunications materials. This is serious health risk.

The Act clearly outlines penalties against people who fail to comply. But why the law has not been strictly enforced is another kettle of fish. Compromising public health is the worst sin anybody can commit against this country because one need not over-emphasize the fact that a healthy nation is a wealthy nation.


Where are our environmentalists? Why are they not taking destroyers of the environment to task? Are they waiting to manage a crisis they apparently may lack the ability and capacity to handle?

The outbreak of strange, catastrophic diseases is now commonplace around the world. Scientists and medical experts after carrying out extensive researches have to a large extent attributed this to environmental pollution which has intensified in the wake of technological revolution.

Development normally comes at a huge cost but there are remedies designed to mitigate terrible effects. These should be strictly adhered to otherwise government will have to spend a colossal amount of money on healthcare.


Government should henceforth ensure that service providers particularly in the telecommunications industry operate within the ambits of the law to save the public any threat to their health.

Precautionary measures should never be treated with levity or else a substantial proportion of our population will be in constant danger. Scrap or expired telephones and their parts as well as other communications gadgets which may contain harmful chemicals should be properly disposed of by the people who import them into the country.

Our laws say so and so it should be for the safety of the ordinary man who has great difficulty accessing basic health care due to acute poverty.