In 2009 a federal law will convert all TV stations to digital, sending most of the US's 268 million analog TVs into the trash. As consumers snatch up plasmas and HDTVs, the old sets—made of lead, cadmium, and mercury will be thrown into garbage dumps, where they may contaminate underground water supplies, reports the LA Times.
"There's going to be an e-waste tsunami that hits America," warned an executive of an electronics recycling company. Manufacturers are trying to prevent environmental fallout by organizing special drop-offs for old TVs. But with the digital transformation two years away, there is little way to assess how much hazardous waste the junked TVs will create.