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e-waste: a threat to human health

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems
02 February 2010

Researchers have found that improper disposal of electronic waste “e-waste” will affect the quality of ground water in the next 10-20 years making it difficult for the future generations to obtain clear water supply. It will also cause a long-lasting damage to the environment that could lead to the emergence of new diseases and change in weather patterns.

Electronic gadgets are made up of some of the most lethal toxins such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, nickel, copper and mercury. If disposed improperly, they pose threat to human health and the environment. Human exposure to chemicals from e-waste could damage the brain and nervous system, cause genetic damage and birth defects, according to health experts.

The UN Environmental Program (UNEP) estimates that the world produces 20-50 million tons of e-waste every year. Rather than being safely recycled, e-waste is routinely exported by developed countries to developing ones including China, India, Kenya, Ghana and Sudan among others.

According to Zero Waste Organization SA, around 99% of the computer components can be recycled including ferrous and nonferrous metal, glass and plastic, but that is rarely done.

E-waste is the most speedily growing waste problem in the world. The risk to human and environmental health requires both developed and developing countries to come up with rapid and workable solutions to clean up the massive e-waste mess so to avoid a future disaster.

Extracts from article at Suite101
Related article: SA lacks dedicated e-waste legislation

2 comments to e-waste: a threat to human health

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