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THE GLOBAL ELECTRONIC WASTE CRISIS

Many are aware of the environmental impact pollution can have. However, pollution can be factored into different categories each increasing in different hazard levels. One of the most hazardous is e-waste. E-waste essentially is any device that is thrown into landfills without properly being disposed of. For example, the battery within a laptop leaks chemicals that could seep into the soil and infect ground water while also contaminating soil which could be used for agricultural purposes (mostly common with run-off water). Some of the most common chemicals that are detrimental for the environment are:

● Mercury
● Lead
● Beryllium
● Brominated flame retardants
● Cadmium,

It is estimated that approximately 40 million tonnes of electronic waste is thrown yearly; most ending up in landfills without proper recycling. Americans throw out approximately 416,000 mobile phones each day, according to 2014 figures from the EPA. There are more mobile connections worldwide than the number of people on Earth! In Brazil alone, 2.1 million tonnes of electronic waste was thrown away in 2019. Experts say that by 2030, our electronic waste number will be in the 74 million ton range. According to the World Health Organization, millions of children are affected by electronic waste. In developing countries, e-waste is an expanding issue that requires immediate attention. For example, a pregnant mother exposed to PAHs could be risking the life of her unborn child. “ Potential adverse health effects include negative birth outcomes, such as stillbirth and premature births, as well as low birth weight and length. Exposure to lead from e-waste recycling activities has been associated with significantly reduced neonatal behavioural neurological assessment scores, increased rates of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), behavioural problems, changes in child temperament, sensory integration difficulties, and reduced cognitive and language scores.” A few years ago, the WHO organized a Children and Digital Dumpsite call to action which ensures the environmentally safe disposal of electronic waste and to ensure that the safety of the workers and their families are maintained. It also encouraged tech companies to look into creating more durable electronic material with the reuse of electronic material (recycling). “Children and adolescents have the right to grow and learn in a healthy environment, and exposure to electrical and electronic waste and its many toxic components unquestionably impacts that right,” said Dr. Maria Neira, Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, at the WHO. “The health sector can play a role by providing leadership and advocacy, conducting research, influencing policy-makers, engaging communities, and reaching out to other sectors to demand that health concerns be made central to e-waste policies.” Some ways you can help is to educate yourself on how to safely/properly dispose of any electronic waste. Teaching others in your community, especially youth is a critical step to working towards the global common goal. At Green Schools Green Future, we honour the global commitment to protecting our beloved Earth for future generations. All computers at our school will be recycled or reused – Green Technology! To learn more, click on the about page.

Sources:
https://www.who.int/news/item/15-06-2021-soaring-e-waste-affects-the-health-of-
millions-of-children-who-warns

https://sustainablebrands.com/read/defining-the-next-economy/reducing-e-waste-
increasing-equity-by-reimagining-the-brazilian-smartphone-
industry/?inf_contact_key=cb849acd16113890c651bebc98040525680f8914173f919
1b1c0223e68310bb1

 

 

Written By Sarah Syed

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