Since the arrival of the digital age, the average Joes lifestyle has changed drastically. The digital revolution or the Third Industrial Revolution began between the late 1950s and the early 1970s. That time, records, televisions, and computers became available to the general public.
People started to incorporate the devices into their lifestyle. Thus, the demand for such products increased, and the production of digital records and computers grew at a rapid rate.
In the latter half of the 20th century, communication and digital computing technologies brought sweeping changes in human societies. The Third Industrial Revolution marked the beginning of the digital age. The technological innovations in recent decades changed traditional business and production techniques. With this, e-waste and solid waste accumulated drastically.
You may have heard about the great benefits of e-recycling. However, are you aware of the hazards of improper disposal of end of life electronics or EOL products? If you dispose of electronic devices without care, your actions can affect the environment, other people, and your food supply.
Electronics and appliances contain numerous toxic materials. When they are exposed to heat or pressure, these chemicals can leak into the environment or poison anyone nearby. Likewise, burning obsolete or broken devices is dangerous. Nowadays, even children in elementary school are given new electronic devices on a yearly basis.
Every Christmas or on their birthdays, they may get a new gaming console, iPhone, or computer. What happens to their old, broken, or obsolete devices? Their old gadgets may be burned or thrown into dumpsters. Similarly, working adults tend to buy the latest iPhone or Android smartphone. They, too, might dispose of their outdated electronics improperly.
If you have kids, you must remind them of the following hazards. In fact, any of your loved ones should be knowledgeable of the risks of improper e-waste disposal.
1. Lack of proper equipment when disposing of e-scraps can lead to accidents and loss of life. When you heat, pressurize, or sort electronics, you are exposed to hazardous consequences.
2. The compounds formed after certain elements are heated can cause adverse health effects such as lung cancer, thyroid problems, and skin diseases. As an example, lead exposure can affect the central nervous system and the brain. It can cause death, convulsions, and coma.
3. On the one hand, palladium, a rare and lustrous element widely used in the electronics industry, is toxic and carcinogenic when it bonds with other elements.
4. When it combines with chlorine found in PVC boards, palladium chloride is formed. This compound is harmful if absorbed through the skin, inhaled, or swallowed. It causes kidney, liver, and bone marrow damage.
Environmental Impact is huge.
If e-waste has repercussions to your health, then it has adverse effects on the environment. Heavy metals produced from improper e-waste disposal can get mixed into the soil or bodies of water. When they are burned, harmful gases are emitted to the air.
The effects of such practices are catastrophic. Wild animals may die. This affects the food chain and food supply. In addition, trace amounts of harmful elements like mercury are ingested by fishes and small game. Plants such as crops and grasses may also absorb heavy metals.
If you are exposed to harmful chemicals present in e-scraps, toxins can enter your body. You may develop any of the following health conditions:
1. Reproductive issues
2. Hormonal imbalance
3. Developmental problems
4. Nervous system damage
5. Chronic beryllium damage
6. Lung cancer
7. Skin ailments
8. Kidney damage
9. Asthmatic bronchitis
10. Cadmium accumulations
11. Muscle weakness
12. DNA damage
Improper handling and disposal of e-scraps are detrimental to mankind and the environment. Since e-waste consists of toxic chemicals and plastic, it can pollute the environment. Since end of life electronics have heavy metals, they can cause serious illnesses when they are burned or submerged under water. The best way to get rid of electronic scraps is to e-recycle them.