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Electric waste is a fast growing problems of the world as its components are made of toxic substances that can lead to an adverse impression on human health and the environment if not handled correctly. Majority of countries do not give importance on the management of e-waste and, this issue coupled with the lack of the right infrastructure and procedures for recycling, which only aggravates the problem. The paper looks at the different reasons why the e-waste is a growing concern and how it effect on environment and human. It also looks at the possible solutions to control and manage Electric waste.
New electronic gadgets and appliances have become an important part of our life, and one cannot think of a world without computers and mobile phones. However, in the race to advance technologies, the society is creating its own toxic footprints. One of the rapidly growing problems of the planet relates to electric waste or e-waste.
E-waste is made of discarded electronic appliances such as computers and mobile telephones. It broadly covers computers, mobile phones, refrigerators, washing machines, digital music recorders, televisions, etc. At present, the global production of E-waste is believed to be more than 20 million tonnes every year and the countries that lead in the production of the waste are Europe, the United States, China and Latin America (Murthy 2012). The prime reason behind the fast accumulation of E-waste is considered be their shorter life span.
The e-waste or electronic waste is an emerging problem, what with the large volumes of e-waste being generated that carries toxic materials. When recycled or disposed of in uncontrolled environments, the high toxicity of these pollutants (Meenakshi& Harini 2012) can lead to damaging impacts on the environment as well as humans. E-waste has been classified as highly hazardous and the new waste is posing a serious challenge in both developed and developing countries. The dumping of e-waste, particularly computer waste from developed countries to lesser developed countries is only a convenient and economical solution that is only leading to complicated problems. The magnitude of the problem is slowly turning into a colossal one, and its management is a growing issue of environment and health. Electronic waste has raised grave concerns as most components of the waste are toxic and are not biodegradable.
E-waste contains potential environmental contaminants such as Hg, Cd, Ni, Pb, Sb, etc. Burning of such waste may generate polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, hydrogen chloride, furans and dioxins. With the development of new technologies, the chemical composition of E-waste also changes. If handled improperly, the toxic chemicals can have a negative impact on the atmosphere as well as on human health. Lead can affect the nervous systems while inorganic mercury can spreads out in the water and impact the food chain, particularly by fish. Toxic cadmium compounds can slowly accumulate in the human body. Polycyclic hydrocarbons (Pinto 2008) can affect lung, skin and bladder. Beryllium may cause a chronic lung disorder and is a probable carcinogen. When improperly disposed of and handled, the toxic components of the e-waste have long lasting effect on the environment. They can easily contaminate soil, water and air as well as enter the food chain.
There is already a growing pressure from environmental organizations on electronics companies to find solutions to e-waste and its management. The procedure followed by the rich countries simply dumping their e-waste in poor countries has got to stop. These underdeveloped countries do not have the right means and adequate infrastructure for managing and disposing of e–waste. The routine recycling techniques followed by them include burning and dissolution in strong acids. There are no guidelines followed to protect human health and the environment from the damaging materials.
It is our major concern to ensure that the future generations have access to a clean and pure environment. Reducing and recycling electronic waste (E-Waste 2012) is the only way to prevent those toxic materials from entering the environment and human systems. It is important to prolong the lifespan of valuable materials by recycling. There is a need to educate the masses and organizations about the hazards of e-waste and how to manage it efficiently. The electronics should be carried to a professional waste disposal facility or returned to the electronics manufacturer. As part of the new environmental policies, many of the manufacturers are encouraging their customers to be a part of their recycling schemes.
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D Tripura Meenakshi & Varala Harini 2012, "Entrepreneurship Opportunities In Managing E-
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E-Waste 2012, Berkshire Publishing Group. Pinto, V.N. 2008, "E-waste hazard: The impending challenge", Indian Journal of
occupational and Environmental Medicine, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 65-70.