Ask yourself a few questions: Do you still watch movies on a VCR player? Most likely the answer is, “No.”
Do you buy a new mobile set as soon as it is released in the market? If you’re like 50% of iPhone users, you should buy the new iPhone as soon as it hits the market.
How many times have you changed computers in this life? Surely more than once.
And have you installed any new electronic equipment at home recently? The answer should be “yes”. Because research shows that people are using new electronic devices more than ever before.
Now let’s face the real question: Where does all this discarded, useless and old electronic stuff go? Basically, these discarded electronic devices or parts that come in the form of waste become electronic waste or e-waste.
What Exactly Is E-Waste?
Electronic waste or e-waste refers to electronic products that contain expired electronic components. Many users may not know that these electronic components contain a variety of toxic substances. So they have to be handled very carefully when they expire or get damaged.
When electronic products expire, we can often give them away to someone who can use them. Many stores these days offer exchange offers, where old items are deposited and new items are available at a lower price. Many stores also offer bartering options.
Shopkeepers can often take old equipment and refurbish it. Or they can take parts off old machines and use them on other machines.
However, if a product becomes completely unusable or breaks, it should be disposed of in a designated e-waste dustbin, if any, so that it can be recycled or reused later.
If there are no e-waste recycling institutes, we should establish such institutes soon. Because if e-waste is not managed properly, it can become a huge threat to the environment around the world, including humans or animals.
Many times e-waste is disposed of in landfills or landfills along with other wastes. Such waste is seen to be left even in waste land.
But dumping e-waste in this way poses a risk to public health. E-waste continues to harm natural ecosystems for generations. If e-waste is not disposed of properly, the toxic chemicals released from it cause serious harm to the earth’s air, water, soil and above all to human health.
Negative Impact Of E-Waste On Air
If e-waste is not properly segregated, shredded or incinerated, it causes air pollution. At this time, toxic dust or toxins like dioxin spread in the environment and pollute the air. And breathing this polluted air can cause serious diseases in the human respiratory system.
Many times cheap appliances are burnt after they break down. Also, to separate precious metals like copper from electronics, they need to be incinerated. But there is a risk of serious diseases such as cancer if the fumes emitted by burning in this way go into the body with breath.
Because this smoke contains fine particles, which can mix with the air and spread for thousands of miles and harm other animals including humans. Again, while separating precious metals like gold or silver from e-waste, desoldering methods are used, or different types of chemicals including acids are used. Noxious fumes can be released during these operations even if care is not taken.
Those who manage this waste are most at risk of air pollution due to e-waste. However, if the smoke spreads with the wind, even people who are far away are not safe from it.
Air pollution from e-waste appears to harm some species of animals more than others. This puts those species at risk of extinction and can cause permanent damage to the biodiversity of a geographic area.
Air pollution over a long period of time degrades the quality of water or soil and adversely affects vegetation. This can cause irreparable damage to the entire ecosystem.
An example of this can be found in China. A waste recycling plant was built in an unplanned way in the Guiyu region of the country. Those who set up this plant, aimed to collect precious metals from e-waste recycling plants.
But due to unplanned waste management, lead levels in the air of that area reached abnormal levels within a few days. As a result, this lead enters the body with the human breath and comes out with the excrement and pollutes the soil and water. At one time, lead poisoning caused neurological problems in various animals in the area, including humans.
Harmful Effects On Soil
If the e-waste is not managed properly, this toxic waste gets deposited in various landfills unplanned. The heavy metals from the waste then leach into the soil and slowly mix with the groundwater.
These toxins can also leach into crops by mixing with soil from neighboring fields. If the soil becomes contaminated due to heavy metals, there is a danger of this contamination spreading to the crops. In this, the crop is damaged, the production of crop land is also reduced than before.
When e-waste is incinerated or broken down, many of its smaller and heavier fractions remain in the soil. These heavy particles cannot mix in the air. However, the extent to which this e-waste will contaminate the soil depends on the soil temperature, type, acidity level and soil composition. Sometimes for a long time, these pollutants get mixed with the soil and harm the plants and soil micro-organisms. At one point wildlife became ill themselves after ingesting such poisonous plants.
Adverse Effects On Water
After contaminating the soil, various heavy metals like mercury, lithium, zinc and barium in e-waste penetrate deeper into the ground. It pollutes the ground water. Once they reach the ground water, these pollutants also spread into ponds, streams, rivers and oceans.
Thus, the amount of acid in the water increases and the water becomes toxic. Which is unsafe for humans, animals and plants. Thus, if the recycling plant is not operated properly, the risk of pollution remains even if the plant is placed far away from the population. At the same time, the supply of fresh water also decreases.
Microorganisms cannot live in a freshwater or saltwater reservoir when its acid content increases. This results in loss of biodiversity and loss of natural ecosystems. Thus, if acid pollution occurs in the supply water, it should be understood that the ecological damage has reached such a level that it is very difficult to return to normal.
Harmful Effects On The Human Body
As mentioned earlier, e-waste contains toxic substances that are very harmful to human health. These harmful elements may include metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, barium and lithium. Also, so that any electronic product does not catch fire easily, many devices add a mixture of different chemicals called ‘Polybrominated Flame Retardant’.
If these toxic substances enter the human body, it can cause serious damage to the brain, heart, liver, kidneys and bones. This can result in a variety of complex and chronic diseases.
Sometimes it has harmful effects on our nervous system and reproductive system. This results in birth defects in the newborn.
Awareness Should Be Raised To Solve The Problem Of E-Waste
Considering these factors, it can be said that if the e-waste is not properly disposed of, it can cause unimaginable damage to the earth’s environment.
So it is important to create public awareness about this, so that people can realize this new problem and be aware of its harmful effects.
If we want to save ourselves from the toxic substances in e-waste, we have to recycle it according to proper rules. If desired, these damaged devices can be repaired and reused and even sold later.
After all, if steps are not taken now to solve the e-waste problem, this problem will become dire in the near future.