Global Health and Environmental Impacts of E-Waste Recycling

Friday, February 15, 2013: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Room 306 (Hynes Convention Center)
Communicating electronically is often thought of as inherently “green”, reducing paper waste and its associated transit. Rapid innovation in the electronics industry produces smaller and faster cell phones and computers, but also produces a rapidly growing inventory of outdated electronics. Although some outdated equipment can be reused, allowing lower income populations access to equipment they would not otherwise be able to afford, eventually it will reach the end of its usable lifespan, and will be disposed of as electronic waste, or e-waste. Concerns about potentially toxic substances in e-waste have led to a patchwork of bans from local landfills, movements to encourage consumers to recycle e-waste, and the development of a growing e-waste recycling industry. E-waste recycling aims to reclaim valuable materials and ideally controls the release of hazardous materials into the environment. However, since the current production of e-waste can overwhelm local recycling capacity, the ultimate fate of e-waste is not clear. E-waste may be shipped to developing nations with informal and unregulated recycling industries, which can be a major source of environmental contamination. This session aims to explore the fate of e-waste, its ecological and human health impacts, and the hazards of informal e-waste recycling, with the ultimate goal of developing solutions to ensure that e-waste recycling is the socially and environmentally responsible activity it aims to be.
Erica L. Dahl, SafeBridge Consultants Inc.
Bruce A. Fowler, ICF International
Bruce A. Fowler, ICF International
and Erica L. Dahl, SafeBridge Consultants Inc.
Sanmi Areola, Environmental Health Services, Metro Public Health Department
The Scope of the Problem: International Regulation and the Basel Treaty
Myrto Petreas, California Department of Toxic Substances Control
Regulated and Unregulated Contaminants in California Waste Streams
Aimin Chen, University of Cincinnati Department of Environmental Health
E-Waste Recycling in Developing Countries: Concerns of Developmental Toxicity