Friday, June 17, 2011

e-Waste/ Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment

            e-Waste or waste electronic and electrical equipment is a major environmental issue that is faced by developing countries even though they produce a small amount of electronic products. These e-Wastes can be either electronic items such as computers, televisions that are discarded, donated or sold by the original owner.
 These e-Wastes contain several harmful pollutants like large quantities of epoxy resins, fiberglass, PCBs, PVC (polyvinyl chlorides), thermosetting plastics, lead, tin, copper, silicon, beryllium, carbon, iron and aluminum and also elements found in small amounts like cadmium, mercury, and thallium. They also contain elements found in trace amounts like americium, antimony, arsenic, barium, bismuth, boron, cobalt, europium, gallium, germanium, gold, indium, lithium, manganese, nickel, niobium, palladium, platinum, rhodium, ruthenium, selenium, silver, tantalum, terbium, thorium, titanium, vanadium, and yttrium.
With the technical development, scientists invent new electronic devices that can be handled and used easily than old devices. When the old electronic devices are damaged, people purchase new electronic products while giving away the old electronic products to others or discarding them to the environmental without a proper disposal method. Some developed countries export these e-Wastes to developing countries in Asia and Africa through brokers who export these e-Wastes without recycling thus making e-Waste a global environmental issue.  
Like I have mentioned earlier, these e-Wastes contain harmful environmental pollutants like heavy metals and plastics which produce unfavorable conditions to human and animal existence by ground water contamination, atmospheric pollution, water pollution and surface runoff. Sometimes these e-wastes cause sanitary problems in developing countries due to their ignorance of the proper techniques required for recycling, reusing, refurbishing, repairing and remanufacturing.
Since e-Wastes cause several threats to the environment, e-waste disposal undoubtedly needs a proper management. Therefore many countries, including both developed and developing countries have taken several precautions to manage e-waste disposal in order to not to make further environmental issues. One such precaution is proper recycling of e-waste. In this process, electronic wastes are converted in to their raw materials like gold, silver, copper and are reused in manufacturing. Even though recycling of e-waste leads to conservation of intact natural resources and minimizes air and water pollution caused by hazardous disposal, it can cause serious health care problems to the people who are involved in the recycling process and to the people who live around recycling process take place. Therefore the recycling process should be done with extra care and attention because if not acids and acidic sludge which are recycling inside the waste can pollute the surface water and ground water by leaching. Toxic flames and gases that are emitted during the recycling process can go in to the air and pollute the atmosphere. When e-waste gets stored in lands (landfills), toxic substance like PCBs, lead, and mercury in batteries and in other electronic products gradually leach in to ground water thus causing a deadly impact on the environment as well as on human sanitation. 
Other than recycling we can introduce production process modifications to reduce the waste generation. We can also organize consumer awareness programs using mass media. Several laws, rules and regulations to electronic waste pollution can be also introduced as a measure to reduce this generation of e-Waste.
By minimizing and managing the e-Waste, waste electric and electronic equipments it is possible to reduce these environmental issues which make earth a nefarious place for living.