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The Health Risks Of Exposure To E Waste

1035 words - 5 pages

High proliferation of electronic gadgets has increased the challenges of how to correctly dispose of the ever-growing amount of electronic waste, which poses serious potential risks to human health. This discussion will highlight how e-waste affects human health. We will begin by defining e-waste, its components, affects on human health and ways to prevent and reduce such waste. Electronic waste comprises of items such as televisions, computers and mobile phones, as well as a wide range of household, medical and industrial electronics. Due to the rapid development and evolution of today’s electronic devices more and more devices are being discarded in favour of newer and more advanced ...view middle of the document...

Mercury exposure too occurs via food. Exposure to above average levels of mercury results in neurological disorders (Clifton 2007:237). Heavy-metal Contamination usually occurs as a result of runoff, which contaminates water supplies, soil and intern crops. Heavy metals from e-waste are washed off of landfills, entering underground aquifers, thus contamination water supplies. What the above ultimately demonstrates is that humans can be negatively impacted by e-waste, both directly and indirectly (Br Med Bull 2003). Inhabitants of areas surrounding landfills are at a higher risk of developing heavy metal poisoning, yet according to Robinson (2009) wind patterns are able to distribute toxic particles far from landfills. E-waste is commonly shipped off to third world countries, where it is separated and sorted, often by hand. As a result, those working with the various components are found to have greater disposition to heavy metal related medical conditions. This processing is largely informal, which results in regulations not being followed and the introduction of heavy metals into the environment. First world countries tend to be more mechanized, thus reducing human exposure to e-waste. Pregnant women and children have weaker immune systems and as a result are more drastically affected by heavy metal exposure (Br Med Bull 2003). According to Leung et al. (2009), 80% of children living near the largest e-waste recycling plant in the world experience respiratory problems. The best way to prevent hazardous materials form e-waste coming into contact with human beings is to prevent and limit their use in electronics. Prevention is better than cure. Product design and development is the way forward. Electronic components need to be re-used, recycled and disposed of correctly. Onus needs to be on the manufacturer to handle and process the product cleanly. Norms and standards need to be effected so that organizations must handle the e-waste in a responsible way. Policies, which are ineffective, need to be scraped in favour of more proactive stances. Legislation for recycling and disposal needs to be instituted. Greater research needs to be done to establish how e-waste can...

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