E-waste recycling analysis essay
E-waste recycling is described as the process of throwing away old, used, or broken electronic devices or items (Sthiannopkao, & Wong, 2013). Some electronic products include computers and cell phones, as well as major appliances such as washing machines (Tue, Takahashi, Subramanian, Sakai, & Tanabe, 2013). E-waste is being generated at an alarmingly fast rate due to the emergence of newer forms of technologies that take over the older forms. This causes low recycling rates of obsolete electronic products worldwide, which can lead to potentially harmful effects (Kiddee, Naidu, & Wong, 2013). Some of these effects include physical health consequences, as well as environmental health concerns (Wu et al, 2019). It is important to understand the risks involved so that proper management of e-waste recycling can be implemented.
As technology continues to develop, more and more people around the world upgrade their devices and throw away their old ones. Worldwide, e-waste is being produced at a rate of 20-25 million tonnes a year (Robinson, 2017). Having high levels of e-waste can be quite harmful, as electronic devices contain high levels of potentially dangerous chemical elements, including chromium, cadmium, and lead (Ackah, 2017). E-waste also contains high levels of metals such as copper and mercury, and the compounds produced and released into the air from burning these elements can be detrimental to the environment, leading to soil contamination and air pollution (Robinson, 2017).
E-waste recycling also poses many health implications for workers and communities exposed. Studies analyzing e-waste production found that people can be directly or indirectly exposed to harmful substances of e-waste recycling either through inhalation of bad air, physical contact of dangerous elements, or ingestion of food grown on contaminated soil (Awasthi, Zeng, & Li, 2016). Constantly being around e-waste centers for long periods can cause populations to develop toxic health effects. Some of these health effects include loss of lung function, damage to reproductive health, cognitive and behavioural changes, and improper cellular function (Heacock et al, 2016). If not treated immediately, these effects can later develop into more serious, long term concerns. This includes the risk of developing cancers, or dermal disorders (Huang et al, 2016). Groups at higher risk of developing such adverse health effects are children and developing fetuses (Noel-Brune et al, 2013). Some of the health effects children face are congenital malformations, abnormal thyroid development, and physical health effects (Noel-Brune et al, 2013). Pregnant women also face many health effects. They are more likely to have spontaneous abortions, premature births, or children born with smaller birth weights (Grant et al, 2013).
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
As e-waste recycling is becoming more common in developing countries, it is important to understand the concerns involved and ways to manage these issues. For example, more efforts should be put into transporting foods produced in other sites to the local market to reduce contaminated food ingestion. Installing air cleaners, and making members of the community wear masks can reduce inhalation exposure. As well, implementing safety procedures for workers can reduce direct and indirect exposure to harmful elements, and reduce the health and environmental impacts of e-waste recycling (Song, & Li, 2015). Overall, e-waste recycling needs to be properly managed in developing countries, before the issue becomes too advanced and causes more problems.
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