Effects Of E Waste On Human Health – The WHO recently published a report outlining the link between informal e-waste recycling activities and health outcomes in children. According to the report, 18 million children and 12.9 million women may be at risk of adverse health outcomes associated with e-waste recycling. Here is a review focusing on India.
E-waste or e-waste refers to all electrical and electronic equipment and their components that are discarded as waste. With the advancement of technology and the increasing use of electronic products for multiple needs, it is no wonder that the generation of e-waste is increasing at a rapid rate. People’s insatiable demand, technology adoption and shorter replacement cycles are some of the reasons for the exponential growth of e-waste. In Europe, the United States, and China, the average cell phone dies in less than two years. Even the United Nations has repeatedly warned that a “tsunami of e-waste” will soon hit the world.
- 1 Effects Of E Waste On Human Health
Effects Of E Waste On Human Health
According to a 2019 World Economic Forum report, e-waste generated annually is worth more than $62.5 billion, which is more than the gross domestic product of most countries. In addition to being a major environmental problem, millions of children are affected by the increase in e-waste. This story reviews a recent report on e-waste and children’s health – “Children and Digital Waste Sites: E-waste Exposure and Children’s Health” published by the WHO.
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In 2019 alone, WHO estimated that around 53.6 million tonnes (MT) of e-waste was generated worldwide. Compared to 2014, the year when global e-waste statistics are officially available, global e-waste generated has increased by 9.3 tons (nearly 21 percent). In 2014, the total e-waste was 44.4 tons. It is estimated that by 2030, global e-waste will increase to 74.7 tons. Per capita e-waste has also increased from 6.4 kg in 2014 to 7.3 kg in 2019 and is expected to reach around 9 kg by 2030. One of our previous stories looked at trends in the total amount of e-waste generated. Wise and regional contributions detailed based on Global E-Waste Monitoring – 2020. As the pandemic forces people to stay and work indoors, the use of electrical and electronic equipment will increase.
Among all countries, China produces the most e-waste, accounting for approximately 19% (10.12 tons) of e-waste generated globally. The United States is the second leading country followed by India. Overall, the 12 countries together generated more than 3.5 million tons of e-waste, accounting for more than 65 percent of e-waste generated worldwide in 2019. About 166 countries participated with the remaining 35%.
According to the latest United Nations University estimates, of the 53.6 million tons of e-waste generated in 2019, only 17.4 percent (9.3 tons) reached formal management or recycling facilities. The remaining 82.6 percent (44.3 tons) was illegally dumped, mainly in low- or middle-income countries such as regions of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
In addition to the growing volume of e-waste, digital waste from advanced economies is sent to East and Southeast Asian countries to circumvent domestic recycling laws. The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants are two important international conventions that deal with the transportation and disposal of chemicals and hazardous waste. According to the Basel Convention, such illegal movements of hazardous wastes should be prevented and transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and other wastes should be minimized in accordance with environmentally sound and efficient management. However, to circumvent this, waste is sent to receiving countries as “second-hand equipment”. Recipient countries may resell some of the most repairable devices. However, the rest is dumped in unofficial or official garbage sites.
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Discarded electronic devices may contain valuable components such as gold, copper, etc. In the informal setting, such equipment is dismantled and recycled through primitive techniques that may include burning, heating, or soaking in chemical baths. Adequate precautions are often not taken by workers, especially in the informal sector, which exposes them to toxic chemicals such as mercury, lead, chromium, dioxins, and flame retardants, and affects air contaminated with toxic particles, smoke, and other wastes. . Their health is affected by environmental damage such as air pollution or the leaching of dangerous chemicals into the soil and water that contaminates entire communities.
Data on the number of people involved in e-waste recycling or the number of landfills are not clearly available. Various studies have come up with estimates of the number of people working in the informal waste sector. One assessment found that 12.5 to 56 million people worldwide work in the informal waste sector. Another survey by the World Bank estimated 15 million informal waste workers and the International Labor Organization estimated 19 to 24 million waste workers worldwide and 15 to 20 million in the informal sector. Considering the proportion of women employed in the industrial sector, it is estimated that 2.9 to 12.9 million women work in the informal waste sector. A significant proportion of them are of reproductive age and are likely to become pregnant while working, thereby exposing the unborn child to toxic substances directly and by transmission during pregnancy.
An estimated 152 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 work as children, with an estimated 73 million working in hazardous work worldwide and countless more in the informal waste recycling sector. An estimated 18 million children are illegally employed in various forms of industry, including e-waste and its management. Children recycle e-waste because their little hands are more dexterous than adults. Children who go to schools near e-waste recycling centers are also vulnerable because the child’s body is still developing. Families and communities living near these e-waste bins also experience the dangerous impact of working in such places. For example, a child who eats just one egg from “Agbogbloshie”, a waste site in Ghana, absorbs 220 times the European Food Safety Authority’s daily limit for chlorinated dioxins.
Children absorb more pollutants than their size and are therefore unable to metabolize or eliminate toxic substances from their bodies. Children are exposed to e-waste toxins through dermal exposure, inhalation, ingestion, and placental exposure. The right to life, survival and development of children is compromised in this process.
Pdf] Effects Of Particulate Matter On Human Health, The Ecosystem, Climate And Materials: A Review Udc 539.12:613:504.75
Neurological growth and behavior disorder, negative birth outcomes such as stillbirth and premature birth, lung function and respiratory effects, thyroid and cardiovascular system dysfunction, DNA damage, impact on immune system function, increased risk of some chronic diseases including cancer and cardiovascular diseases in the later stages of life. , are some of the adverse health effects of prenatal exposure and childhood exposure to e-waste.
According to the report, only about 71 percent of the world’s population lives in a country that has some form of e-waste management law. But this does not mean that this policy is implemented correctly. Only about 77 out of 180 countries have some kind of law that deals with e-waste management. Despite being a member of various international agreements, countries continue to exploit their weaknesses.
Strict measures must be taken to ensure the protection of health and the environment – both for the production and for the management of waste electronic equipment. Formalization of the waste management sector and continuous monitoring would be helpful. Labor laws should be amended so that workers’ health is not endangered. In addition, the healthcare system should be strengthened and people should be sensitized to the dangers of e-waste.
Moreover, the availability of data on waste generation, dumping, workers, etc. will help in better monitoring of this sector. All this is possible only when the existing laws are implemented properly.
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Domestic generation of 3.2 million tons of e-waste in 2019, third only after China and the United States. According to the Central Pollution Control Board, in 2019-2020 India generated more than one million tonnes of e-waste across 21 types of electrical and electronic equipment listed in the e-waste management rules of 2016. However, India collected only 3.5% of the waste. It is estimated that e-waste was generated in the country in 2017-2018 and 10% in 2019-2020. The 2016 rules introduce Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which holds the producer responsible for collecting a certain percentage of e-waste. State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) are supposed to get permission to recycle the material. SPCBs are also responsible for checking informal trade, dismantling and recycling waste.
According to a 2018 Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) report, 95% of e-waste in India is recycled by the informal sector and only 5% by the formal sector. Waste dealers collect and dispose of e-waste. In an unscientific way such as burning, dissolving in acids and washing. In 2014, about 4.5 thousand children aged 10 to 14 were engaged in various e-waste activities without adequate protection. This practice continues to be reported from different parts of India such as Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. This is despite India’s Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 and its amendment in 2016, which prohibits children from engaging in hazardous work, reports the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
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