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E-waste Impacts on Children

We have most likely heard a campaign somewhere talking about eliminating waste to help save the environment, but ewaste negatively impacts our health.

Understandablely, the effects of ewaste e-waste on our health, havehealth have now become a huge cause for concern. People that work at ewastee-waste dumps are at risk of developing lead poisoning; this population consists of both adults and children.

In this article we will be highlighting some information given at a webinar, that was organized by the International Network on Children’s Health, Environment, and Safety (INCHES), in collaboration with the Department of Environment, Climate Change, and Health, World Health Organization(WHO), under the theme “E-waste and children’s health”.

Before we dive in let us take a look at INCHES.

What is INCHES?

INCHES is a community that works officially with WHO to promote better health and safe environments for children. In 1997 Child watch International and Dutch Association of Environmental Medicine along with other organizations held email discussions on the formation of an international network on Children’s health Environmenthealth, Environment and Safety. In 1998, a workshop was held to further discussions and initiate the formation of the International Children’s Health and Environment Network (ICEH), now called the International Network on Children’s Health, Environment, and Safety. (INCHES)

INCHES focuses on promoting children's health and better environments as children are not fully developed resulting in them being more susceptible to illnesses and environmental hazards.

Image by INCHES

Let us look at some key points that were highlighted in the webinar.

In 2013, WHO launched an initiative on E-waste and Child health that includes a number of objectives three of which are to increase access to evidence, knowledge and awareness of the health impacts of e-waste; track progress and promote e-waste policies that better protect child health.

Additionally, WHO is collaborating with organizations globally to gather data and knowledge, create practical training materials, and further conduct research.

Also, it is estimated that approximately 18 million children are exposed to e-waste from dumpsites. It was discovered in Africa that, the Ojota - Gidan Nkwali processing site has 1,000 youths, while Ijora’s site has over 3,000 youths.

The toxic substances that are found in a lot of electronics, may result in negative impacts such as adverse birth outcomes, reduced lung; respiratory function, and asthma; changes to neurodevelopment, learning and behavioral outcomes(WHO).

Strategies that can be implemented to help reduce child exposure are promoting community awareness education and take-back systems and promoting decent work.

Also, in parts of the world, (e.g Guiyu), where e-waste recycling is the mean of income for families, it has become mandatory for recycling to be done in industrial parks that have centralized ventilation and wastewater treatment.

And with that today’s article has come to an end.

Children are the future, so let us all help build a safer and more sustainable world for them.


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