The sheer mass of mobile phones that will be binned in the coming years will pose significant health threats, according to US research out this week.
With phones having an average lifespan of 18 months, the US alone will dump 130 million phones a year over the next three years, contributing around 65,000 tons of rubbish, according to environmental research group, Inform.
Mobiles create special problems at landfills or in municipal waste incinerators because they have toxic chemicals in batteries and other components.
This "wireless waste" includes arsenic, antimony, beryllium, cadmium, copper, lead, nickel and zinc, materials which have been closely linked with cancer, especially in children.
"Because these devices are so small, their environmental impacts might appear to be minimal," Inform researcher Bette Fishbein told CNN.
The research has urged the industry to expand measures that will reduce the number of mobile phones thrown away. One solution could be the "take-back" recycling schemes, which are commonplace in Australia. The European Union is also considering legislation on such a practice.
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