Encyclopedia of Environmental Health (Second Edition): Electronic Waste and Human Health

Elsevier, Encyclopedia of Environmental Health (Second Edition), 2019, Pages 315-323
Chiara Frazzoli, Orish Ebere Orisakwe, Elochukwu Cajetan Ilo

In the name of bridging the digital divide, Asian and African countries have become the world’s latest destination for obsolete electrical equipments. The toxic nature of e-waste (mixtures of toxicants, mainly chemical elements, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and persistent organic pollutants), coupled with lack of efficient waste management system and unawareness of risky handling practices (e.g., crude recycling, open burning) has made the e-waste traffic a subject of great global importance. E-waste is a generic term encompassing various forms of electrical and electronic equipment that are old, end-of-life electronic appliances. Weak or weakly enforced e-waste regulations pose severe health risks for those working and living near e-waste sites. Due to severe environmental toxic pollution and the contamination of the food chains, the general population is exposed too. E-waste poses severe health risks to the populations, especially fetuses and children; toxic exposure is involved in the etiology of both chronic/noncommunicable diseases and infectious diseases. The e-waste widespread and chronic exposure in receiver countries poses an actual public health emergency, as it entrain significant health risks (disruption of reproductive, neurobehavioral, and immune development, increased risk of chronic diseases including cancer and infectious diseases) also for the generations to come.