E-Waste

Edward Kappus Zachary Woolems

What Is It?
‡ E-Waste is a shortening of electronic waste. ‡ Any improperly disposed electronics can be classified as e-waste.

and specifically. which has become a centerpiece in this issue. ‡ This practice occurs all over places like India. Singapore. China. Pakistan. Guiyu. ‡ The recycling procedures used in disposal centers in rural china lead to toxic materials like lead to seep into the surrounding environment. ‡ The example being studied is the small village of Guiyu. China. . a huge problem is brewing.The Issue ‡ Due to the breakneck speed of the modern world at developing new electronics and discarding old ones.

Map of e-waste erecycling countries .

Guiyu. While rice is still growing in the fields. rural.Case in point: Guiyu. 2002: 17). "Since 1995. ricericegrowing community to a booming e-waste processing ecenter. virtually all of the available building space has given way to providing many hundreds of small and often specialized e-waste erecycling shelters and yards" (Puckett et al. China ‡ The town of Guiyu is located in the Chaozhou region of the greater Guangdong Province in southeast China. Guiyu has been transformed from a poor. .

Toxic Substances Present in E-waste E‡ There are many harmful materials used in consumer electronics including lead. . mercury and plastics. cadmium.

Effects of Toxins: Lead ‡ Lead can be found in circuit boards and monitor cathode ray tubes (CRTs). and microorganisms (Puckett et al. 2004: 19A). The bioaccumulation of lead in the human body is particularly harmful because its primary target is the central nervous system. Lead is particularly dangerous to the environment because of its ability to accumulate and persist in plants. 2002: 11). animals. Lead can cause permanent damage to the brain and nervous system. . causing retardation and behavioral changes. Infants and young children are particularly susceptible because of the impairment of cognitive and behavioral development it can cause (Ryan et al.

.Effects of Toxins: Cadmium ‡ Cadmium can be found in SMD (surface mount device) chip resistors. 2002: 11). Cadmium that enters the system through the gastrointestinal tract resides in human kidneys with a half-life of half1010-20 years (Nordberg et al. Like lead. infrared detectors and semiconductors (Puckett et al. Renal damage is the most common effect of cadmium toxicity. cadmium is particularly toxic to humans because it accumulates in the human body and poses an environmental danger due to both acute and chronic toxicity (Puckett et al. 1985). 2002: 11).

Mercury transforms into methylmercury in water. It is in ecircuit boards. typically via fish. mobile phones. . switches. 1959). lamps. Mercury is readily absorbed by the human body. concentrating in large fish and humans at the top of the food chain (Puckett et al. medical equipment.Effects of toxins: Mercury ‡ Mercury is the most prevalent toxic metal found in e-waste. ultimately inhibiting enzymatic activity and leading to cell damage (Boyer et al. where it can accumulate in living organisms. and batteries. 2002: 11).

large amounts of plastic e-waste are disposed of through landfills. Due to the complex recovery process. Plastics ecomprise almost twenty-three percent of a typical desktop twentycomputer (Microelectronics 1995). allowing toxic substances to leach into the environment. incinerators and eopen burning.Effects of toxins: Plastics ‡ The most abundant component of e-waste is plastics. . the variety of products available for recovery complicates the de-manufacturing deprocess. cables and housing for all electronic devices. They are used for insulation.

The Problem IN Pictures .

. and environmental cleanliness. for toxic poisoning in areas such as human development. China are a focal point Guiyu.‡ Waste recycling areas in Guiyu.

Effects on humans .

China show cadmium and lead levels to be well above World Health Guidelines and EPA Drinking Water Standards (table 1) . ponds. 2002: 23-24). in rivers. This indiscriminate dumping 23has exacerbated contamination of drinking water sources and sediments. Guiyu.Effects on surrounding environment ‡ Large amounts of imported e-waste material and process residues enever get recycled and are simply dumped in open fields. and wetlands. along riverbanks. Water samples from the Liangjiang River outside of Guiyu. and in irrigation ditches (Puckett et al.

005 0.001 1.002 0.9 World Health Guideline (mg/L) 0.015 Metal Liangjiang River.001 0.01 Cadmium Mercury Lead .01 < 0.003 0. Guiyu (mg/L) 0.Effects on water quality EPA Drinking Water Standard (mg/L) 0.

.Combating e-waste e‡ Though e-waste is a persisting issue. efforts are being emade around the world to combat e-waste dumping in ecountries like China.

manufacturers must Government of Japan take back and recycle end-use products Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 2003 (European Parliament. 2003) . Haiti. 2004) Intended for OECD countries Environmentally Sound Management of Waste: Reclaim e-waste 2003 (OECD.Programs combating E-waste Participating Countries 167 countries of the UN (excluding Afghanistan. The European Union European Parliament manufacturers internalize take back/recycling costs Home Appliance Recycling Law: Home Ministry of the appliance Environment. 2003) Japan 2001 (EPA. and the US) Governing Body United Nations Environment Programme Initiative Basel Convention: No transboundary movement of hazardous waste Date Adopted Reference 1989 (UNEP. 1989) WEEE Directive: Reuse/recycle electronic parts.

individuals can do many things: 1. . If discarding old electronics. 3. 2. be sure to recycle them at a trusted recycling center. Keep your old electronics longer instead of replacing them.What can you do? ‡ In order to lessen the amount of e-waste being eproduced. Purchase efficient electronics that do not contain hazardous materials such as mercury and lead.

org/features/view_feature.php? theme=3&fid=66 .wri.Useful Links ‡ http://earthtrends.

"TOXIC TRADE: THE REAL COST OF ELECTRONICS WASTE EXPORTS FROM THE UNITED STATES.org/.php?theme=3&fid=66>. 2009.Websites used ‡ Nakagawa.org/.wri. World Resources Http://earthtrends. <http://earthtrends.org/features/view_feature. Web.wri. Layne. . June 2006. 2 Dec. Institute.wri." Http://earthtrends.

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