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LETTER TO EDITOR
Year : 2007  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 116
 

E-waste management in India: An emerging environmental and health issue


Department of Community Medicine, Dr. D.Y. Patil Medical College, Pimpri, Pune, India

Correspondence Address:
H T Pandve
Department of Community Medicine, Dr. DY Patil Medical College, Pimpri, Pune - 411 018
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0019-5278.38461

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How to cite this article:
Pandve H T. E-waste management in India: An emerging environmental and health issue. Indian J Occup Environ Med 2007;11:116

How to cite this URL:
Pandve H T. E-waste management in India: An emerging environmental and health issue. Indian J Occup Environ Med [serial online] 2007 [cited 2017 Mar 27];11:116. Available from: http://www.ijoem.com/text.asp?2007/11/3/116/38461


Dear sir,

The benefits of the information revolution are clear for all to see. Devices such as PCs, faxes, mobile phones, music players and a host of others open up exciting possibilities for individuals and businesses alike. Yet there is a downside to this digital era - the growing mountain of electronic waste (e-waste). How we tackle this dilemma, will have major implications for sustainability. [1]

The situation is alarming as India generates about 1.5 lakh tones of e-waste annually and almost all of it finds its way into the informal sector as there is no organized alternative available at present. [2] Especially, metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore are at higher risk of environmental pollution due to e-waste. According to the study conducted by NGO Toxic Link, the Mumbai city faces grave health and environmental risks posed by a whopping 19,000 tones of electronic waste produced here apart from a good amount of the same being imported clandestinely. The rate of e-waste generation and the current methods of disposal in Mumbai pose grave environmental and health risks to the city at large due to its dense population and spatial character. [2] Study by the Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute, Kolkatta, found that people in Delhi are about twice as likely to suffer from lung ailments as those in the countryside due to the huge amount of e-waste generated. [3] Bangalore may be generating 10,000 tonnes to 15,000 tonnes of e-waste every month, according to industry sources. The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board has put it at 10,000 tonnes a month. The amount of e-waste generated poses a grave threat to the environment as well as to public health. [4]

Workers in e-waste disposal sector are poorly protected against the risk of it. They dismantle e-waste, often by hand, in appalling conditions. About 25,000 workers are employed at scrap-yards in Delhi alone, where 10,000 to 20,000 tons of e-waste is handled every year, with computers accounting for 25 percent of it. Other e-waste scrap-yards exist in Meerut, Ferozabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai. [5]

The hazardous substances found in the e-waste include substantial quantities of lead, cadmium, chromium and flame-retardant plastics. Cathode ray tubes and components with high lead content are considered dangerous to health. Inhaling or handling such substances and being in contact with them on a regular basis can damage the brain, nervous system, lungs, kidneys and the reproductive system Working in poorly-ventilated enclosed areas without masks and technical expertise results in exposure to dangerous and slow-poisoning chemicals. Due to lack of awareness, workers are risking their health and environment as well.

There is an urgent need for improvement in e-waste management covering technological improvement, institutional arrangement, operational plan, protective protocol for workers working in e-waste disposal and last but not the least education of general population about this emerging issue posing a threat to the environment as well as public health.

 
  References Top

1.Climbing the e-waste mountain. J Environ Monit 2005;7:933-6.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Urban hazard: Mumbai choking on e-waste. [Last updated on 2007 Feb 24]. Available from: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/NEWS/India/Urban_hazard_Mumbai_choking_on_e-waste/RssArticle/articleshow/1671262. [Last accessed on 2007 Jun 11].  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.E-waste a health hazard. Available from: http://www.cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newid=81450 [Last accessed on 2007 Jun 11].  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.E-waste posing health hazard. Available from: http://www.hindu.com/2006/03/20/stories/2006032019210400.htm. [Last accessed on 2007 Jun 11].  Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Vinutha V. The e-waste problem. Available from: http://www.expresscomputeronline.com. [Last accessed on 2007 Jun 11].line.com  Back to cited text no. 5    



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