The Negative Effects of E-Waste on Human Health

published Jun 26, 2020
2 min read

Electronic Waste

It seems as soon as you buy a new smartphone, a brand-new smartphone hits the market. It’s bigger, it’s better, and you want it. Here’s the thing… the bigger phones get, the more we are encouraged to get a new phone almost annually, the greater the negative effects of e-waste are on human health. E-waste (electronic waste) is a term used to describe the electronic devices that we discard of – whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, computer or even a television.

Whether you realise it or not, tossing your old electronics is negatively impacting the environment, which is negatively impacting your health.

Global Cost of Electronic Waste Problems

Your friend just got a brand new 72″ television, you’ve made do with 42″ long enough, it’s time to bridge the gap. Out with the old, tossed in the rubbish, and a new one takes its place.

Your sibling just got a brand-new iPhone; you’re two models behind now, it’s time to upgrade.

Your partner dropped their tablet and it isn’t completely broken, but it’s difficult to use now. So, they ditch it and purchase a brand new one.

What happens to your old technology?

As hundreds of millions of people purchase new technology, their old technology is discarded and makes its way to landfills all over the world. We’re not blaming you; the reality of the matter is that most people don’t know any different. Despite their cost, we view any hiccup in our technology as an opportunity to discard them and upgrade. The industry encourages this because they sell more products. The lifespan of electronics seems to be shrinking as new products are constantly released.

The Effects of E-Waste Disposal on Your Health

It’s a multi-ingredient recipe for toxic waste.

Have you ever taken a moment to consider what components go into the creation of the laptop you’re reading on, the phone in your hand or the tablet you’ve perched on a stand? There are a lot of them.

Lead, for instance, features in the phone battery, the circuit board, and is also used in PVC products as a stabiliser. Meanwhile, mercury is also in the circuit board, as well as the battery and crystal displays. That’s just for starters; then there’s the barium, cadmium, and bromine. Exposure to high levels of lead can contribute to damage to your nervous and reproductive systems.

That’s not all! In particular, the new iPhone has rare earth minerals like cerium, neodymium, and europium. At high quantities, ingesting these elements is dangerous. The phone you hold in your hand might not be damaging you, but our e-waste can.

Environmental Effects of E-Waste Bioleaching

Here’s the problem. If you dispose of your electronic waste improperly, all of those nasty components are leaching into the environment. It’s infesting soil and water, thus contaminating wildlife, livestock, and crops. These toxins are then being passed around the food chain.

Let me paint you a picture. Since purchasing a new product you have disposed of yours. It’s now in a landfill. The heat of the sun starts to melt, crack, and warp the electronics. This allows all of those toxic components an escape, thus allowing them to eek into the soil. The elements shift those toxins from soil to water sources, thus risking crops. The crops leach the toxic traces of e-waste, before being harvested, sold, and eaten by the public.

It doesn’t sound like good news, does it? Don’t worry! You can help.

How You Can Help

If you want to make a difference, you can! Think about it; you probably go out of your way to recycle aluminium, plastic, paper, packaging and perhaps even your food waste. You understand how important the environment is, not only for your personal health but for the world at large and for future generations. So, why wouldn’t you pay more attention to your levels of e-waste?

There are three ways in which you can do this.

The first and easiest way to tackle your e-waste problem is to have your technology repaired instead of simply discarding it and purchasing something new. If it’s a battery issue, a cracked screen or a charging problem, these are easy repairs professionals can handle.

The second option is rather than purchasing brand new electronics, you can instead opt for a refurbished used item. This will not only save you money on your purchase, but it will also continue the recycling circle. This can make a significant impact on the environment.

Finally, you can recycle your e-waste. If your technology is truly outdated and there is no other option but to replace it, then there are plenty of options from selling your old electronics to finding the nearest electronics recycling centre.

Many large technology companies are looking at using recycled earth minerals to craft their new products. It’s a big win all around, from our health to the environment. It means the destruction of the environment through mining will be reduced and it reduces the risk of e-waste toxins being spread into the environment.

It’s simple, it all comes down to this – repair, reuse or recycle.