The Health Effects of E-waste in Nigeria

Health Effects of E-waste in Nigeria

Electronic waste (e-waste) are defined as discarded electrical or electronic gadgets of devices. E-Waste or electronic waste is a growing problem all over the world. This is due to increasing technological development and advancement. Every day, one new gadget or device is being manufactured. Companies create new models of their products every year, and their customers have to upgrade, ditching the previous models. If you are like many smartphone users today, you probably think about changing your phone every 2-3 years. Some even change their phones every year, as soon as a new one comes out. This contributes to e-waste. But this has barely scratched the surface. Laptops, television sets, computers, DVDs, chargers, all contribute to e-waste.

While these gadgets and devices are not bad on their own, it is the effect they have on our environment that is of great concern. When people stop using a particular device, be it a laptop or phone, they either give it to someone else or sell it. But sometimes, depending on the state of the device, they have no option besides discarding this device, which they most times do indiscriminately. They throw the device away like they throw other kinds of waste. They simply place the laptop in their trash bin and wait for the garbage men to come to dispose of it. Worse, some simply just throw the device away without any regard. 

Indiscriminately dumping of waste is bad, but when it comes to technological devices and gadgets, it presents a bigger problem. This is because of the materials used to build these gadgets. Devices like laptops and phones contain chemicals and minerals like gold, silver, copper, bromine, cadmium, mercury, and so on. When these chemicals are exposed to land, such as through rainfall, or when they make their way to the water, such as rivers or streams, they would contaminate the land and the rivers. This could result in a range of harmful effects including reproductive issues, skin ailments, DNA damage, kidney damage, chronic beryllium disease, muscle weakness, and so on. 

The problem of e-waste is complex. On one hand, you have e-waste generated from discarded gadgets and devices used in the country. On the other, you have the imported e-waste or secondhand electronics. This includes laptops, televisions, pressing irons, video players, blenders, and so on. Most of these secondhand electronics arrive the country in worn-out conditions. Some of them may have reached the end of their shelf-life and would have been fixed a little so that they function for just a while, just so they can be sold. These products may seem good, but they are e-waste from other places like America and Europe. [1]

Of course, these products would always be patronised because they are cheaper and people often think they would have better quality because of their country of origin. But this exposes people to substandard and inferior products that are often electrical hazards. Such products also end up getting dumped after a few weeks or months of use, adding to the e-waste generated from new products. 

E-waste also contributes to the state of dirtiness in the country. Pieces and parts of electronics litter streets and roads, making them look rough, dirty, and untidy. This adds to other wastes generated from other materials. 

Health Effects of E-waste in Nigeria

In summary, the health effects of e-waste in Nigeria are:

  • E-waste contains toxins such as barium, lithium, mercury, polybrominated flame retardants, lead, cadmium , which have negative health effects on human health.
  • When e-waste products are heated up by the sun, toxic chemicals are released into the air, hence causing damage to the atmosphere.
  • E-waste can also impact agricultural land. Soils for planting become toxic when substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are deposited in them.

Recycling E-waste in Nigeria

Computers, televisions, landlines, VCRs, stereos, copiers, refrigerators, washing machines, phones and fax machines are common electronic products that are e-waste in Nigeria. Many of these products can be reused, refurbished, or recycled

The best way to treat e-waste in Nigeria is by recycling it. This involves taking the gadgets and devices to a place where they would be used to manufacture other things. Doing this would help to rid the streets and lands of e-waste, preventing harmful effects. 


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