Environmental Group provide tips on managing your flood-damaged electronics

In the wake of last week’s devastating floods in the metropolis, toxics watchdog group, Ban Toxics, gives  consumers a few tips on how to properly manage flood damaged electronic equipment.

Based on the hazardous materials study conducted by Ban Toxics, in Marikina, Cebu, and Davao, a typical urban household will approximately have at least 4 mobile phones, 2 TVs, 2 computers, and 9 compact fluorescent bulbs among the many electronic appliances. With at least 50% of Manila under water, the group is not surprised to see large quantities of electronic appliances and gadgets affected by the flood.

A quick search online will reveal dozens of tips on how to manage water-damaged electronics.  The group has collated these advisories and shares the following steps which are most applicable for the Pinoy consumer:

Safety First
Unplug or power off electronic appliances that have gotten wet!  DO NOT attempt to turn on the electronic equipment especially if it still has water. Water damage can short-circuit the appliance and cause electric shock to the person turning on the appliance.

Clean and Dry the Electronic Appliance
Next, clean and remove the water inside the electronic appliance. Water that has entered the motor electrical contacts and switches may corrode or short-circuit these parts. Blot up excess or standing water using a dry cloth.

If mud has soaked into the equipment DO NOT hose it down, no matter how tempting it would be.  Water jetting from the hose might seep into areas that were previously untouched by the mud and cause further problems.  If there is a resulting odor, homemade deodorizer of baking soda and water should be helpful.

Have the Electronic Appliance Tested in Authorized Service Centers
Consumers are not advised to test the electronic equipment by themselves, for safety and practical reasons.  Ban Toxics called up 8 major electronics equipment manufacturers in the Philippines and sought their advice on how to manage the water damaged equipment.  All customer service representatives interviewed by Ban Toxics were in unison in recommending that damaged equipment be brought to their authorized service centers for testing.

The service center personnel can properly check the equipment, recommend a course of action and see whether the warranty of the equipment can still cover the damage.

Don’t Dump or Burn that E-waste!
The service center personnel will give the consumer a good idea on whether the equipment is repairable or not.  If the equipment can be repaired, the consumer can proceed with the thought that their favorite X-box or Play Station will soon be resurrected.  For equipment that cannot be repaired, DON’T DUMP, BURN or DISPOSE of this electronic waste or e-waste.

Electronic equipment contain various toxic components that are harmful not only to humans, but to wildlife and environment as well.  In the 2011 report entitled, “Vanishing E-wastes of the Philippines,” which was released by Ban Toxics, EcoWaste Coalition and Foundation for the Philippine Environment, information on the toxicity of electronics is discussed.  The report mentions that toxins such as mercury, lead, cadmium, brominated flame-retardants, arsenic, pthalates are just some of the toxic components lurking in electronic products.  Thus, proper disposal of these hazardous wastes is important to ensure that consumers and the environment are not impacted.

Some electronic manufacturers will accept their e-waste for disposal free of charge.  It is best for consumers to call the appropriate manufacturers and double-check if they can drop off their e-waste.

In cases where the consumer is left holding the e-waste as the manufacturer does not have a take-back program for their e-waste, it is advisable that consumers check with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources office or website and look for accredited electronic waste handlers.

Consumers might have the notion of leaving their e-waste at the curb or selling it off for parts at the local junk shop.  First off, it is against the law to dump these types of special wastes at the curb.  And secondly, unless the junk shop that accepts the e-waste is properly accredited by the DENR, there is high likelihood that the e-waste given to these shops for recycling are improperly managed and can cause harmful pollution not only to the people in the junk shop but in the community as well.

Take Preventive Measures against Future Water Damage
With typhoon Helen coming, the onset of future flooding is not too distant.  Consumers living in areas that are flood prone should consider taking the following measures to protect their electronics.

>>Put the electronic equipment on a platform to prevent future damage if you live in an area that experiences shallow flooding; or
>>Consider elevating the equipment in another level of the house, especially in cases where major flooding occurs in your area.

“Tandaan po natin, di lang ang basurang itanapon ang babalik sa atin pag e-waste ang pinaguusapan. Pati rin po ang mga lasong lulan ng e-waste ay maaring bumalik sa atin kung ito ay basta-basta nating itatapon o susunugin,” explains Myline Macabuhay, Ban Toxics Assistant Coordinator for Toxics-Free Schools Program.  “Stay safe, never dump or burn you damaged electronics.”

Ban Toxics is an environmental organization, working to raise toxics-awareness in schools and communities.  For more information, please visit us at: or on Facebook.

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