Disposing of Electronic Waste Properly

Electronic Waste And How It Affects The Environment

Not many persons are familiar with the term e-waste, it is nothing that your husband or boyfriend left behind after a way too spicy curry dinner. E-Waste is coined term that is used when referring to electronic devices that have reached the end of their life cycle or even newer devices that have malfunctioned and are beyond repair that has ended up in somebody's trash can.

Lets take a serious look at the e-waste situation people and you will begin to see how serious these high technological fast paced trends are costing the environment and people's lives. Do you remember what used to exist before we all had Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) monitors? Well, before LCD their was the Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) or as many people called them, the big back monitors. The hundreds of millions that were once greatly used by the world has now disappeared off the face of the planet, or so we think!

When ever there is new and introduced technology, you can be sure that the their will be a sharp drive upwards in e-waste. People discard these items without even having a second thought as to if they are disposing of them the right way, or how will all this junk affect my living condition here on earth.
So where does all these waste units end up?, Are they being recycled? how do they affect the environment. These are some serious questions and we need to look at them in details.

E-Waste Toxicity Level Dangerous to Life

Electronic waste isn’t just waste like your regular plastic cup and perfume bottle waste, it contains some very toxic substances, such as mercury, cadmium, beryllium, arsenic, lead, brominated flame retardants, "compounds that have an inhibitory effect on the ignition of combustible organic materials" . When some of these chemicals are burned at very low temperature, they create additional toxins, such as halogenated dioxins and furans – some of the most toxic substances known to humankind. The toxic materials in electronics can cause cancer, reproductive disorders, endocrine disruption, and many other health problems if this waste stream is not properly managed.
You always see on the cigarette carton box a warning that says smoking kills, well what you don't know is that so does you tablet, laptop, refrigerator and many more electronic devices. Don't be so quick to hug that brand new high speed, memory blasting tablet you just received, pretty soon it will stab you in the back. The list below displays e-waste chemicals and the effect they have on human beings.

Chemicals in e-waste and effects

(click column header to sort results)
Constant exposure to arsenic can cause lung or skin cancer
Gastrointestinal Disorders and and muscular weakness
Respitory Inflammation
Brominated Flame Retardants
Hormonal Problems
Lung Damage leading to death
Carcinogenic if inhaled
Sinus Damage and nose bleeding
Headache, muscle pain and Anorexia
The Central nervous system is short ciurcuted
long term contact: damage to brain, kidney and developing fetus
may lead to sinusitis and lung cancer

The above list displays many of the health risk that will happen to the human body once it is exposed to the toxins that bleed form these electronic devices. It is a reality that in third world nations, many e-waste workers an even dwellers as some of these poor people have dwellings near these dump sites are exposed to the harsh chemicals of these devices. There is little education to these people regarding the dangers that these waste prose and as such many are oblivious to the fact that they are slowly killing themselves.
e-waste Africa
e-waste Africa
e-waste India
e-waste India
e-waste China
e-waste China

Where are these E-waste being Dumped

Landfills.(Only 12.5% of e-waste is currently recycled). According to the US EPA, more than 4.6 million tonnes of e-waste ended up in US landfills in 2000. Toxic chemicals in electronics products can seep into the land over time or are released into the atmosphere, impacting nearby communities and the environment and eventually spreading further.
Exported to Third world Countries: What more can i say, the third world always seem to get the messy end of the stick to hold. How inhumane the thought, someone striking a deal which entails that e-waste be exported to developing countries so that first world nations will stay toxic free. E-waste is routinely exported by developed countries like America or Russia to developing ones or third world nations such as Asia and Africa, often in violation of the international law. In the US, it is estimated that 50-80 percent of the waste collected for recycling is being exported in this way. This practice is legal because the US has not ratified the Basel Convention, and we all know that that Basel Convention will not be ratified anytime soon, as it is more viable for these first world nations to get those toxins off their land than to have it incinerated in landfills and polluting their environment.
China had tried to prevent these e-waste trade by actually placing a band on importation of Electronic Waste in 2000, but they soon found out that the band was being neglected and that the law was being rejected as e- waste is still arriving in Guiya of Guangdong Province, the main centre of e-waste scrapping in China. It seems as though they were higher powers than the government at work regarding this ban by china in 2000.
In the delhi, India, they have hired over 20000 workers at different scrap yards to handle the influx of e-waste pouring in from first world nations.. There are approximately 15-20000 tonnes of e-waste handled each year in India, with more than a quarter of those waste being computers. Many more e-waste scrap yards have been found all over India.
Africa, Agbogbloshie is the world's largest e-waste dump. Agbogbloshie was once a wetland in Accra, Ghana. This dump has become the survival means of many of the young men in this region. Once new toxic waste arrives, they scavenge through the waste and young men smash devices to get to the metals, especially copper.The metals are then sold for food and any other necessities.The men in this area do not live long or most are of deteriorating health as they receive Injuries daily by scraping through these item bare handed, they receive burns and cuts by going through these waste materials. They eventually suffer eye damages, lung and back problems, chronic nausea, anorexia, debilitating headaches and respiratory problems. Most workers die from cancer in their 20s.

How to help Minimize E-Waste

I once saw a college student with three smartphones, two tablets and a notepad, all belonging to one person to do what exactly; browse the internet! Why would you need to be a walking gadget outlet to just post things online? Our hungry need to always be wired or unwired for that matter has driven us into a gadget frenzy, always wanting the new model, the faster PC, the most updated software. New technology just can't keep up with the demands of the "tech-junkies" But our addiction come with an enormous price, the garnishing of e-waste. Here are some simple ideas in how we can help to reduce e-waste.
  • Reduce: The total amount of e-waste produced by one individual over a lifetime is astonishing. People tend to want to change technology as soon as a new model is out and end up disposing of or selling the older model. Many times i can attest that the so called newer model boast nothing new more that a higher capacity memory and a few unnoticeable tweaks that most times are never used by the consumer. Reduce you e-waste by not buying new gadgets on a rapid basis.
  • Reuse:Even if you don't want to, old electronic equipment are still reusable. Theses reusable equipment can be donated or given away to someone or any institution that is unable to afford them. The longer Electronics stay in use, the less e-waste is produced.
  • Recycle: Equipment that has totally done it's worth should be packed and delivered to e-waste recycling company that has proper and controlled methods of dealing with any toxins that will emit from recycling.

List of items categorized as E-Waste

  • Computers (Laptops, desktops, servers, tablets etc)
  • Speakers
  • Keyboards
  • Mouse
  • Monitors
  • Cellphones
  • Digital watches
  • Calculators
  • Microwaves
  • Stoves
  • Fridges
  • Air Condition Units
  • Flash drives
  • Printers
  • Switches (Wireless and Wired)
  • Copiers
  • vacuums
  • Alarm Clocks
  • Remote Controls
  • Electrical Toys

Let's Play our Part in Reducing E-Waste

We know how intriguing it is to have that newer model anything. We are caught in the web of upgrades that neither our intelligence or our pockets can keep up with. When i say intelligence i mean that there are some technologies now considered old or outdated that many still do not understand, yet there is a better unit being sold to us. E-waste is one of the world's biggest problems. We need to have a longer life period for devices and consumers need to take control of their environment and allow technology developers to give the earth a break. Here are some first step approaches:
  1. Stop changing your tablet every year
  2. Stop changing computer every year
  3. If possible fix broken electronics
  4. Give away older electronics if you plan to buy a new one
  5. Get information regarding e-waste handling in your area and see if it is done properly


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