E-waste refers to electronic appliances that have reached their end-of-life, like washing machines, cell phones, refrigerators, computers, TVs and microwaves. Electronics contain ferrous & non-ferrous metals, glass, circuit boards, wood, plastics, rubber, ceramics, etc.
The main constituent of e-waste are steel and iron (accounting for 50%), non-ferrous metals (about 13%) like aluminum, copper, plastics (about 21%) and precious metals, such as gold, silver, palladium, platinum, etc. Electronic waste (e-waste) is a fast growing waste that is increasingly becoming a major environmental problem around the world.
Health hazard of e-waste
Illegal dumping and land-filling of e-waste contribute to toxic chemicals in the environment. Some of the techniques used to recycle e-waste include dissolution in acids and burning, often with very few measures being set to protect the environment and human health.
Consumers and workers are often exposed to chemicals present in electronics through their life cycle, with workers involved in unprotected handling e-waste getting health problems through inhalation and skin contact. These workers are often reported to have blood that contains a high level of flame retardants, arising from being exposed to contaminated air.
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