How the e-waste you produce is providing poor children with a dangerous living

How the e-waste you produce is providing poor children with a dangerous living

Context- Seelampur on the outskirts of New Delhi is home to India’s largest electronic waste (e-waste) dismantling market where nearly 50,000 people scrape out a living extracting metals. Many of them are children who earn a living by dismantling, extracting and recycling e-waste.

(Credits- ResearchGate)

India’s e-waste problem

  • According to the Global E-waste Monitor 2020, the world dumped 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste in 2019. India produced 3.2 million metric tons of e-waste, much of which is dumped for dismantling and recycling in Seelampur with no regulations.
  • Every day, trucks laden with discarded computers, desktops, screens, mobile phones and air conditioners deliver loads early in the morning.
  • Pickers sift through the scrap and sort out circuit boards, batteries and capacitors. Some of it is submerged in chemical solutions or burned to retrieve small quantities of gold, copper and other metals. This acid bath exposes workers to toxins.
  • India has tried to tackle this unregulated industry and introduced a series of laws in 2011 and 2016 mandating the authorization and registration of all e-waste recycling facilities, along with directives for workers to use protective equipment while dismantling the waste.
  • However, activists say these laws are not strongly enforced and the majority of the e-waste market in India remains unregulated.
  • The environmental NGO Toxics Link has spent years trying to pressure the government to introduce more stringent laws and oversee effective enforcement on ground. The NGO is concerned about the situation of children working in these hazardous conditions.

What health risks are the children exposed to?

His clinic is located in the congested alleys of Seelampur and treats many children every day who suffer from serious skin diseases and chronic lung infections due to continuous exposure to chemical-laden toxins found in the metals.

Source- Indian Express

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