Electronic waste has been marked as a global concern after its harmful impacts on nature and human health, has been recognized worldwide. It is also known as e-waste. The impacts of e-waste upon the environment and the long-term effect of this threat is often underestimated. Nonetheless, numerous e-waste recycling facilities have been established in recent years in an attempt to safeguard both people and the environment. But still the level of pollution is disastrous for both the environment and human health. Read this article to know about e-waste, its effects and ways to mitigate the crisis.
What is Electronic Waste?
E-waste is a colloquial term for electronic devices that have lost their utility. The term "e-waste" refers to consumer and commercial electronic instruments that are nearing or have reached the end of their usefulness. There is no specific definition of the term. For example, what specific kinds of electronic appliances should be included in the category have not been determined.
How Does Electronic Waste Pollute the Environment?
Improper e-waste disposal in landfills or other non-dumping locations poses significant risks to present public health and has the potential to damage ecosystems for future generations. Toxic chemicals are produced when electronics are illegally disposed of and wind up in landfills, affecting the earth's soil, air, water, and, eventually, human health. Here are some significant ways how electronic waste is taking a toll on our home planet and our health.
Impact on Air
When e-waste is disposed of by disassembling, damaging, or melting the components, dust particles or chemicals, such as dioxins, get released into the environment, causing air pollution and harming respiratory health.
The air contamination produced by e-waste has a greater effect on certain animal species than others, which may threaten these species as well as the biodiversity of particularly chronically contaminated areas. Air pollution degrades soil and water quality and plant species over time, causing permanent harm to ecosystems.
Impact on Soil
When e-waste is improperly disposed of in normal landfills or illegally buried, both heavy metals and flame retardants may seep straight into the soil. These chemicals can contaminate groundwater and crops that are grown nearby. When heavy metals pollute the soil, crops become susceptible to absorbing these poisons, which may cause a variety of diseases and prevent farms from growing optimal yields.
Massive particles get discharged after burning, shredding, or disassembling e-waste. When these particles are buried or re-depositing to the ground rapidly, the soil gets polluted. The quantity of polluted soil is determined by a variety of variables such as temperature, pH levels, and soil composition.
Impact on Water
E-waste from heavy metals, such as mercury, lead, lithium, and barium, seep through the earth and enter groundwater. When these metals enter groundwater, they ultimately end up in ponds, rivers, streams, and lakes. Huge toxification is produced in the water. As a result, the water becomes hazardous for animals, insects, and human communities even if they are kilometres away from recycling sites. Day by day, it is becoming more difficult to get safe drinking water.
Acidification from metal has the potential to kill both marines and freshwater species, which in the long term can disrupt biodiversity, and damage ecosystems. Acidification also harms ecosystems to the point where recovery gets difficult.