Week 5: Environmental Impact

Tejasvi S -

Hello! Welcome to the week 5 blog! This week I will be talking about the environmental issues that is caused by e-waste exposure.

E-waste causes extremely negative impacts on the environment. Most of the research regarding the environmental impact has been done in 3 areas: the soil, air, and water. Contaminants from e-waste processing sites leach into groundwater and surface water, contaminating water sources used for irrigation, drinking, and other purposes. Heavy metals, PCBs, and other pollutants have been found in rivers, ponds, wells, and other water bodies near e-waste processing areas. E-waste landfill sites also have risks of soil contamination, especially in areas where chemicals have been dumped on the ground. Heavy metals accumulate in the soil, posing threats to human health and ecosystems. Leachates from landfills containing e-waste can further contaminate the surrounding soil with inorganic substances and toxic metals. Additionally, acids and sludge from melting computer chips, if improperly recycled, can cause soil acidification, which reduces the pH of soil. Regarding air pollution, e-waste processing emits toxic pollutants like PCBs, PBDEs, dioxins, furans, and particulate matter into the air. High concentrations of these pollutants are observed in areas where e-waste is dismantled or burned, leading to respiratory problems and other health issues for nearby populations. This not only affects local environments but broader global air currents as well. As mentioned above, testing of the effects of health and environmental effects took place in places where recycling took place or places very near to where recycling took place. However, as air pollution carries on to large regions with global wind patterns, the same applies to water and soil as well. The water from these areas travel worldwide through rivers, streams, lakes, etc. The food grown in the soil from these polluted areas is transported globally. Although there hasn’t been much research done in this area, it can be assumed that much of the population is indeed affected by this improper e-waste recycling. Another misconception is that pollution caused by e-waste is only caused by improper recycling. However, the pollution is also caused by the e-waste that is thrown away and sitting in landfills, as these pollutants also get into the air, water, and soil, ultimately harming human health (L., 2014; Cayumil et al., 2016; Akram et al.,2019).

I hope you enjoyed learning about the environment! See you next week!

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    Great info! I'd love to hear about your site placement. How does hazardous medical waste disposal compare with e-waste?
    Have you considered any solutions to reduce e-waste sent to landfills?
    Hey Ms. Bennett, unfortunately I don't work with hazardous medical waste. The biomedical team deals with medical equipment, which when no longer usable, is treated the same as e-waste.
    Hey Bhuvi! Great question! The only solutions I've come across recently have been related to awareness and human action. If we increase awareness regarding e-waste, people will hopefully ensure that their e-waste is formally recycled, and hence lead to decreased e-waste in landfills.

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