WHO’s Children and Digital Dumpsites Report

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WHO’s Children and Digital Dumpsites Report

Recently a Report titled Children and Digital Dumpsites has been published by the World Health Organization (WHO).

In this report of ‘WHO’, there is a study about the risk of children who work in unusable electronic devices or informal processing of e-waste.

What is e-waste?

E-waste refers to old, electronic material or all electrically operated equipment thrown away when it becomes useless. This includes all kinds of gadgets from computers, phones, fridges, ACs to TVs, bulbs, toys and electric toothbrushes.

Key points of the report

  • According to the report, 18 million children and adolescents all over the world, some of whom are less than 5 years of age, are working informally at e-waste dumping sites or such industrial areas, posing a serious threat to their health. is. Most of these children are from low- and middle-income countries.
  • Similarly, about 29crore women work in the informal sector involving toxic electronic waste, which not only affects the health of those women but also threatens their unborn children.
  • It is often seen that the parents of poor children engage them in the task of recycling electronic waste because the small hands of the children are far more efficient in this task than the elders.
  • Apart from this, other children also come in contact with it who live around this electronic waste or go to school. They are most at risk of coming in contact with toxic chemicals present in this waste. Such waste contains lead and mercury which can harm the intellectual abilities of those children.

Negative impact of e-waste on health

  • Children exposed to e-waste are highly sensitive to toxic chemicals present in e-waste due to their small size, and their less developed organs and rapid rate of development. Babies absorb more pollutants than their size. Their bodies are less able than adults to digest and remove toxins from the body.
  • E-waste contains more than 1000 precious metals and other substances such as gold, copper, lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, polybrominated biphenyls and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons etc. These are often processed in low-income countries that do not have proper safety regulation, making the process even more dangerous.
  • A pregnant woman’s exposure to this waste can result in premature birth, death and development of her unborn child. Apart from this, it also affects his mental development, intellectual ability and speaking ability.
  • E-waste also affects children’s breathing capacity and lung function. It can damage the DNA of children. This can lead to thyroid disorders and later diseases like cancer and heart disease.

Volume of e-waste produced worldwide            

  • According to the Global E-Waste Statistics Partnership, around 36 metric tonnes of e-waste was generated globally in the year 2019, which has increased by almost 21% in the last five years. This is so much e-waste that if the total weight is estimated then it was about 350 cruise ships and if it is put in a line then its length will be about 125 km.
  • It is estimated that in the coming time, as the interest in computers, mobile phones and other electronic items is increasing, this waste will increase further.
  • According to statistics, only 4% of this waste had reached formal management or recycling facilities. The rest was illegally dumped in low- or middle-income countries where it is disposed of informally.
  • Proper collection and recycling of e-waste is also very important from an environmental point of view. The amount of e-waste that was formally recycled in the year 2019 resulted in a reduction of about 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

E-waste production and management in India

  • In the year 2018, the ‘Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change’ told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that 95% of the e-waste in India is recycled by the informal sector and most scrap dealers do it in an unscientific way. Dispose of it by burning or dissolving in acid.
  • Data shared by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) with the ‘National Green Authority’ (NGT) shows that more than one million tonnes of e-waste was generated in India in the year 2019-20. There was an increase of seven lakh tonnes in e-waste in the year 2019-20 as compared to the year 2017-18. In contrast, the decomposition and recycling capacity of e-waste has not seen an increase since 2017-18.
  • The ‘E-Waste Management Rules’ (2016) were notified by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in place of the E-Waste Management and Operation Rules (2011). Also, in the year 2018, amendments were also made in it regarding some issues related to the producers. Besides setting targets for disposal of toxic and hazardous material waste, an ‘Extended Producer Responsibility’ (EPR) scheme has also been introduced.
  • As per the e-waste collection targets, a target of 40% collection by weight of the volume of waste generated under EPR in the year 2019-20 was set. It is 50% for the year 2021-22, 60% for the year 2022-23 and 70% for the year beyond. The amended rules state that “collection, storage, transportation, renewal, dismantling, recycling and disposal of e-waste” shall be as per the directions of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Source – The Hindu

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