Don’t breathe easy about E-waste

What happens to your computer or mobile phone when you are finished with it? Does it live in a box in your garage? Eventually, it will have to be disposed of and new research suggests that the disposal of e-waste presents big issues for human health.

E-waste is shorthand for “electronic waste” and refers to electrical goods like mobile phones, computers, televisions, and printers that are no longer used. Every year around the world around 20 million tons of e-waste is generated. So what happens to it? A lot of it goes to China for processing and that processing may have negative impacts on humans according to a new study.

The recycling process used for e-waste is often crude. As a result organic pollutants and heavy metals are released into the air for potential inhalation by people. To see what effect this might be having the researchers exposed cultured human lung cells to components of the pollution from an e-waste recycling plant.

After the exposure they tested for levels of interleukin-8 (IL-8) which is an indicator of inflammation and reactive oxygen species (ROS) which are highly reactive molecules that can cause extensive cellular damage when in excess. They also tested for expression of the p53 gene which produces a protein to suppress cell damage and tumour formation. If p53 is being expressed then you know that cell damage is occurring.

The results showed that e-waste pollution caused to lung cells significantly increase their output of IL-8, ROS, and the p53 gene protein. This level of inflammation and cell damage could impact DNA and lead to heart disease and possibly cancer.

As an additional step the researchers took samples from the air of Taizhou of Zhejiang province where there is an e-waste plant processing more than two million tons of e-waste annually and potentially impacting more than 60 000 people. The researchers did not find a direct correlation amongst the population between raised levels of IL-8 and ROS and the expression of the p53 gene but they still called for an end to “open” dismantlement of e-waste based on their overall results.

If you are the parent of a child under the age of six then you will know all too well the kind of exchange that goes;

Parent: You can’t suck that battery, it’s dangerous.
Child: But I want to.
Parent: I know you want to, but it could make you very sick.
Child: But I like it.

Substitute “mobile phone” or “computer” for “battery” and the interchange could reflect the thoughts of virtually any adult. In light of the recent WHO announcement linking mobile phone usage to cancer risk and now this new research, it seems that, even after you throw them away, mobile phones keep on throwing up health concerns. Despite everything we are discovering there is no evidence that mobile phones will be given up anytime soon. Ask any mobile phone user and even given all the concerns, the answer will likely come back to, “But I like it”.

Source: Environmental Research LettersMeanwhile if you visit Meijer Ad that contains mostly likewise discounts with Winn Dixie Ad you surely have a range like ALDI Ad.

The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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