Electronic waste or e-waste is waste from all kinds of electronic devices, from computers and mobile phones to household electronic products such as kitchen machines, printing machines, stoves, etc.

Little is known about the environmental impact of improper disposal of this e-waste. However, these effects pose very real threats and threats to the global environment as a whole.

Threats of electronic waste on the environment.

Improper disposal of this e-waste will affect the soil, air, and water components of the environment.

Effects on air

One of the most common effects of e-waste in the air is air pollution. For example, a British documentary about Lagos and its people, called Welcome to Lagos, shows various garbage collectors searching numerous landfills in Lagos for badly discarded electronic devices containing cables, mixers, etc. generate income by recycling this waste. These men have been shown to burn cables to introduce copper (a valuable commodity) by burning them in the open, which can release hydrocarbons into the air.

Effects on water

When electronic components that contain heavy metals like lead, barium, mercury, lithium (found in cell phone and computer batteries), etc., are not properly disposed of, these heavy metals are leached through the soil to reach the underground canals that eventually come to the surface. Small streams or ponds. Local communities often depend on these bodies of water and groundwater. In addition to these chemicals, which cause the death of some plants and animals in the water, ingestion of contaminated water by humans and land animals leads to lead poisoning. Some of these heavy metals are also carcinogenic.

Effects on soil

In this way, toxic heavy metals and chemicals from e-waste enter the “soil-plant-food pathway”, one of the main routes of human exposure to heavy metals. These chemicals are not biodegradable: they remain in the environment for a long time and increase the risk of exposure.

These hazards, created by improper disposal of the environment, ultimately have an impact on humans: the human cost; The health effects of these toxins in humans include birth defects (irreversible), damage to the brain, heart, liver, kidneys, and skeletal system. They also significantly affect the nervous and reproductive systems of the human body. When computer monitors and other electronic devices burn, carcinogenic dioxins are created and released into the air we breathe. When electronics are dumped in landfills, these toxins can enter groundwater and affect local resources. Improper disposal of e-waste not only has an impact on the environment but also indirectly and ultimately poses a serious risk to people and animals.

Now that we have an idea of ​​the environmental impact of improper disposal of e-waste, how can we dispose of it properly to protect the environment?

The answer is: there are several ways to do this. This includes:

1. Check with your local government for the laws and regulations that ensure the ethical and safe disposal of these wastes. As a result of the growing threat posed by e-waste to the environment, some municipalities have initiated civic programs in which residents of these communities bring unwanted electronic devices to specific drop-off points (this follows the idea used in collecting plastic bottles) to combat Contamination by plastic bottles).

2. With the donation of electronic products, some of the disposed of electronic waste can be reused. In this way, pollution caused by e-waste can be reduced and access can also be granted to people who would not otherwise have access to these devices.

3. With a certified e-waste recycler, you can find a safe and ethical recycler who is certified by the Basel Action Network (BAN), a non-profit organization. At the regional level in Africa, E-Terra, a Nigerian company, specializes in the safe and ethical recycling and destruction of these electronic products.

With all of the above, we can all be responsible citizens being aware of the dangers that electronic waste poses to the environment and doing everything possible to protect our environment because electronic waste does not end up only affecting the environment… Ultimately, it also affects us, humans.

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