A new study¹ on the effects of E-waste on human health reveals serious negative outcomes for those dismantling and handling components of discarded electronics. The study, published by the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, details that workers, some as young as six years of age, are routinely exposed to hazardous materials and inhalation of toxic gases through direct handling of discarded electronics.
People affected by this health crisis are mostly in areas where there is little knowledge about the health risks and have in many cases no access to basic health care or social protections.
A major obstacle to solving the problem is that manual handling of e-waste is a vital income source in parts of the world where e-waste is exported to. Shakila Umair of the Royal Institute of Technology comments:
“There are massive health problems in Pakistan which can directly be attributed to e-waste handling, yet it is an activity that supports thousands of people.”
To alleviate some of the most immediate concerns, small changes, such as the use of protective gloves and face masks, could make a big difference, but is something the workers can’t afford.