WHAT IS E-WASTE?
E-Wastes or electronic wastes are broken, spent, obsolete and unwanted electronic and electrical products requiring disposal.
An E-Waste, also referred to as Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), if improperly managed, such as through improper dismantling, burning or disposal can result in the release of harmful chemicals into the environment, among which is Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs).
PBDEs are a class of chemicals that are used as flame retardant in electronic and electrical products, like TVs and laptops. They are also used in other easily combustible products, like furniture, mattresses, textiles, vehicle polyurethane foams and plastic parts, and others.
HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS OF E-WASTE
Once in the environment, PBDEs can enter the body of living things by way of inhalation of contaminated air or by ingestion of contaminated food, such as fish. PBDE from the mother’s body can also be transferred to the infant through the breastmilk, noting however that breastmilk is still best and breastfeeding provides tremendous benefits to both mother and child.
Because PBDE is bioaccumulative, it accumulates inside the bodies of living organisms causing health effects, including effects on the thyroid, liver and kidney; change in behaviour; possible effects on the endocrine, reproductive and immune systems; possible cancer, particularly affecting the liver; possible effects to fetuses in wombs of PBDE-exposed mothers; weight loss; and skin problems.
PBDEs are listed among the new POPs targeted for global elimination under the Stockholm Convention.
LAWS AND POLICIES
The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have harmful impacts on human health or on the environment.