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Alarm bells are ringing ahead of the final digital switchover in October 2012. Pollution of the environment by toxic waste looks set to rise in the rush to replace analogue sets with their digital-ready counterparts

Discarded televisions contain hazardous materials, including mercury and lead, which must be carefully managed to prevent contamination of the ecosystem.

Large, cumbersome and digitally unprepared Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) televisions are widely seen as obsolete, leading to high numbers entering the waste stream in recent months. These CRT TVs incorporate large quantities of lead, with 2lbs (0.9kg) being present in a set of average size. To make matters worse, it is extremely difficult to separate the lead from the glass in CRT screens. In years gone by, the glass/lead screens were stripped from discarded televisions and reused - but a reduction in demand for CRT screens has made this practice too costly to sustain.

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