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Why Ignorance of Proper e-Waste Disposal Is Threat To Human life

August 27th, 2012 · No Comments

If the e waste is not disposed properly it could cause harm to human life. This article guides you some improper e waste disposal hazards.

E-waste refers to thrown out electronic equipment like printers, Televisions, mobile phones, computers etc. which are harmful to our ecosystem if not disposed properly. Proper recycling and disposal of E-waste is important to safeguard our earth from Environmental pollution.

There has been extensive research carried out on E-waste disposal and scientists have taken samples from biggest e-waste dismantling areas in china to find out their impact on human health. Burning of E-waste releases poisonous gases which creates air pollution and also affects the epithelial cells of human lungs and cause cancer.

As per reports, it is estimated that around 20-50 million tons of E-waste gets generated every year which gets exported to different regions for disposal. A huge proportion of E-waste gets exported to China and African countries like Ghana for disposal and recycling. Because of improper disposal and poor recycling process, lot of pollutants including heavy metals like lead, cadmium and persistent organic pollutants gets released from E-waste which can affect the human lungs as they contaminate the air.

e waste disposal

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When exposed to such harmful gases released during burning of E-waste, the human lungs can develop cancer and get affected by respiratory diseases. The tested pollutant samples by the researchers, showed increase in levels of ROS and IL-8 which lead to inflammation and oxidative stress in lungs. Some samples of E-waste where found to release phthalates which can impact sexual reproduction.  Hazardous chemicals like chlorinated dioxins get released through E-waste which leads to cancer.

Also dumping of E-waste in landfills is done in many countries which result in soil pollution. E-waste recycling generates plenty of valuable resources such as iron, aluminum, copper and gold. It also contains certain heavy metals like lead, tin, bauxite, cadmium etc. Instead of dumping or burning E-waste, proper recycling of the used electronic products can save these natural resources and also safeguard our environment from pollution.

When E-waste gets burned, they release poisonous gases including CO2, Sulphur-di-oxide which lead to air pollution and also affect the ozone layer of our atmosphere. The ozone layer is responsible for preventing the harmful Ultraviolet rays of sun from reaching our earth. Due to depletion of ozone layer, there is global warming which can bring drastic changes to climatic patterns of our earth.

Improper disposal of E-waste results in release of hazardous chemicals like lead, chromium, mercury, chemical flame retardants and beryllium which is dangerous to soil and water. The hardware and computer server usually contain chromium, mercury and cadmium etc. while LCD screens and Flat panel TVs have lead. For safeguarding the natural resources such as social and water from such toxic chemicals, E-waste should be recycled properly instead of dumping or burning in remote areas.

Due to ever-growing demand of electronic gadgets, the amount of E-waste which gets generated every year is increasing in a drastic manner. So, proper disposal and recycling of E-waste is very important to safeguard our environment from pollution and also to protect human life.  Some of the common hazardous substances present in E-waste are as listed below,

  • Arsenic – Present in LED lights
  • Cadmium – Present in CRT screens, Rechargeable NiCD batteries and photocopiers
  • Lead – Present in batteries and CRT screens
  • Mercury – Present in Fluorescent lamps, LCD screens, alkaline batteries etc.
  • Lithium – Largely present in Rechargeable Li-On batteries
  • Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) – Present in Condensers, Insulation foam and cooling units
  • PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls) – Present in Transformers and Condensers
  • Selenium – Photocopiers

All the chemicals listed above are dangerous to human health when inhaled through air or absorbed through drinking water. Chronic exposure to arsenic could cause skin diseases and impact nervous system. It can also lead to lead cancer which is fatal disease.

Exposure to barium can cause muscle weakness, brain swelling and impact spleen and liver. It can also increase blood pressure and affect health of human heart when exposed for long time period. Cadmium is another hazardous chemical which can have dangerous impact on health of our kidneys. Chlorofluorocarbons are compounds composed of carbon, fluorine, chlorine, and sometimes hydrogen which affect the earth’s ozone layer.

All the chemicals listed above pose some form of threat to human health when exposed for certain time period.  When E-waste gets burned, the people living in neighborhood will get exposed to the hazardous chemicals listed above which can lead to cancer, respiratory problems like asthma and other disorders. Also, dumping of E-waste will lead to soil pollution and affect the fertility of soil causing soil erosion.  So, great care must be taken to recycle E-waste effectively in order to save natural resources and reduce pollution.

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