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Children and digital dumpsites: e-waste exposure and child health

WHO launched the first comprehensive publication on e-waste, entitled ‘Children and digital dumpsites: e-waste exposure and child health’

The soaring global popularity of electronic and electrical devices, from computers to cell phones to heavy appliances, combined with ineffective waste management and disposal, is triggering a crisis of e-waste health risks to which millions of children, as well as women of childbearing age, are exposed.

Informal processing of e-waste through open burning, heating and acid leaching (using cyanide salt, nitric acid or mercury) to extract precious metals exposes children to a range of hazardous compounds. And this waste stream is growing every year, driven by consumer habits in high income countries.

The report examines the main effects of electronic and electrical waste, known as e-waste, on child health and sets out solutions for the health sector at different levels.

This report builds on the WHO Initiative on E-waste and Child Health, updating a systematic review from 2013 with the more extensive knowledge about the issues and health impacts that have emerged in the past five years.

A series of complementary documents such as a summary for policy makers, and a leaflet detailing the WHO initiative on e-waste and child health in all UN languages and portuguese can be downloaded from the WHO Dropbox folder.

Ten different infographics summarize the key messages as well as the call to action.