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E-Waste Impact on Health

September 8, 2015


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Along with the increasing consumption of electronic devices, the amount of electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) produced each day is growing rapidly around the globe. According to the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), “Roughly 40 million metric tons of electronic waste (e-waste) are produced globally each year, and about 13 percent of that weight is recycled mostly in developing countries.”

Developing countries with rapidly growing economies handle e-waste from developed countries, and their own internal consumers. Currently, an estimated 70 percent of e-waste handled in India is from other nations. Recycling of valuable elements contained in e-waste such as copper and gold has become a source of income for many inhabitants in emerging industrialized countries.

Unfortunately, primitive recycling techniques such as burning cables for copper and/or gold expose both adults and children to a range of hazardous substances. E-waste-connected health risks may result from direct contact with harmful materials such as lead, cadmium, chromium, brominated flame retardants or polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), from inhalation of toxic fumes, as well as from accumulation of chemicals in soil, water and food.

Children are especially vulnerable to the health risks that may result from e-waste exposure. As they are still growing, children’s central nervous, immune, reproductive and digestive system may suffer irreversible damages and, therefore, need more specific protection.

E-waste needs to be handled properly, otherwise, the toxins could lead to various diseases such as cancer and neurological disorders.



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