E-waste or Electronic waste is any electrical or electronic equipment that’s been discarded. This includes working and broken items that are thrown in the garbage or donated to a charity reseller, their components, consumables, parts, and spares. E-waste is particularly dangerous due to toxic chemicals that naturally leach from the metals inside when buried.
- Contamination in the air occurs when e-waste is informally disposed of by dismantling, shredding, or melting the materials, releasing dust particles or toxins, such as dioxins, into the environment that cause air pollution and damage respiratory health. Chronic diseases and cancers are at a higher risk to occur when burning e-waste because it also releases fine particles, which can travel thousands of miles, creating numerous negative health risks to humans and animals.
- After soil contamination, heavy metals from e-waste, such as mercury, lithium, lead, and barium, then leak through the earth even further to reach groundwater. When these heavy metals reach groundwater, they eventually make their way into ponds, streams, rivers, and lakes. Through these pathways, acidification and toxicity are created in the water, which is unsafe for animals, plants, and communities even if they are miles away from a recycling site. Clean drinking water becomes problematic to find.
- The negative effects on air from informal e-waste recycling are most dangerous for those who handle this waste, but the pollution can extend thousands of miles away from recycling sites The air pollution caused by e-waste impacts some animal species more than others, which may be endangering these species and the biodiversity of certain regions that are chronically polluted. Over time, air pollution can hurt water quality, soil, and plant species, creating irreversible damage to ecosystems.
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