What Are the Sources of E-Waste?

What are the sources of e-waste? post explains about source of e-waste and e-waste health effects.

What is e-waste

Source of e-waste and its health effects

What is e-waste

The discarded and end-of-life electronic products ranging from computers, equipment used in information and communication technology (ICT), home appliances, audio and video products and all of their peripherals are popularly known as electronic waste (e-waste). E-waste is not hazardous if it is stocked in safe storage or recycled by scientific methods or transported from one place to the other in parts or in totality in the formal sector. The e-waste can, however, be considered hazardous if recycled by primitive methods.

Source of e-waste and its health effects

What are the sources of e-waste

What Are the Sources of E-Waste?

1. Lead

It is used in glass panels and gaskets in computer monitors, solder in printed circuit boards and other components. It causes damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems, blood systems, kidney and reproductive systems in humans. It also affects the endocrine system and impedes brain development among children. Lead tends to accumulate in the environment and can have acute as well as chronic effects on plants, animals an microorganisms.

2. Cadmium

It occurs in SMD chip resistors, infrared detectors, and semiconductor chips. Some older cathode ray tubes contain cadmium. Toxic cadmium compounds accumulate in the human body, especially the kidneys.

3. Mercury

It is estimated that 22 percent of the world consumption of mercury is used in electrical and electronic equipment. Mercury is used in thermostats, sensors, relays, switches, medical equipment, lamps, mobile phones, and batteries. Mercury’s use in flat panel displays is likely to increase as they are replacing the cathode ray tubes. 

Mercury can cause damage to organs including the brain and kidneys as well as the foetus. The developing foetus is highly vulnerable to mercury exposure. When inorganic mercury spreads out in the water, it is transformed to methylated mercury which bio-accumulates in living organisms and concentrates through the food chain, particularly via fish.

4. Chromium VI 29

Chromium VI is used as corrosion protector of untreated and galvanized steel plates and as a decorative or hardener for steel housings. Chromium VI can cause damage to DNA and is extremely toxic to the environment.

5. Plastics

The largest volume of plastics (26 percent) used in electronics has been PVC. PVC elements are found in cabling and computer housings. Many computer moldings are now made with somewhat more benign ABS plastics. Dioxins are release when plastics such as PVC are burned. These are considered to be carcinogenic

6. Retardants (BFRs)

They are used in the plastic housings of electronic equipment and in circuit boards to prevent flammability.

7. Barium

It is a soft silvery-white metal that is used in computers in the front panel of a CRT to protect users from radiation. Studies have shown that short-term exposure to barium causes brain swelling, muscle weakness, damage to the heart, liver, and spleen.

8. Beryllium

Beryllium is commonly found on motherboards and finger clips.  It is used as a copper-beryllium ally to strengthen connectors and tiny plugs while maintaining electrical conductivity. Exposure to beryllium can cause lung cancer. Beryllium also causes a skin disease that is characterized by poor wound healing and wartlike bumps. Studies have shown that people can develop beryllium disease many years following the last exposure.

9. Toners

Found in the plastic printer cartridge containing black and color toners. Inhalation is the primary exposure pathway, and acute exposure may lead to respiratory tract irritation. Carbon black has been classified as a class 2B carcinogen, possibly carcinogenic to humans. Reports indicate that color toners (cyan, magenta, and yellow) contain heavy metals.

10. Phosphor

Phosphor is an inorganic chemical compound that is applied as a coat on the interior of the CRT faceplate. The phosphor coating on the cathode ray tubes contains heavy metals, such as cadmium, and other rare earth metals such as zinc, vanadium as additives. These metals and their compounds are very toxic. This is a serious a hazard posed for those who dismantle CRTs by hand.

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