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Chemicals in electronics

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Electronic and electrical products contain a number of hazardous substances, including lead, mercury and other metals, flame retardants and certain phthalates. These hazardous substances can impact human health and the environment through all stages of the life-cycle: During material extraction and manufacturing, workers and their surrounding communities may come into direct contact with hazardous chemicals which can result in significant adverse effects, including high cancer rates. During the use phase of a product, hazardous chemicals may be released from electronics and lead to exposure of consumers and the environment. Further downstream, hazardous chemicals can be released from e-waste during disposal and recycling, directly affecting workers and entering ecosystems by contaminating the air, water and soil and entering food chains (Global Chemicals Outlook II). While informal e-waste operations are among the world’s most hazardous occupations, exposure to toxic substances is common even in formalized e-waste recycling in developed countries (Global Chemicals Outlook II).

The consumer electronic market continues to grow rapidly, and it has been estimated that the global electronic chemical and materials marked will grow from 22 billion USD in 2014 to 30.5 billion USD by 2020 (Global Chemicals Outlook II).

In light of these considerations, hazardous chemicals in electronics and electrical products have been a priority sector within the work on chemicals in products by the Strategic Approach on Chemicals Management (SAICM). A current project aims at accelerating the adoption of measures by governments and value chain stakeholders to reduce the use of chemicals of concern in electronics products.

  • Policy document
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    Chemicals of Concern in electronics: List of Lists and Regulatory Frameworks

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  • Report
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    Chemicals of concern in electronics: Review of legislative and regulatory approach

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  • Report
    Regional Electronics Study and Circularity Roadmap in the LAC Region: Mapping of Existing Initiatives

    Regional Electronics Study and Circularity Roadmap in the LAC Region: Mapping of Existing Initiatives

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  • Report
    Mapping of Stakeholders for the Regional Electronics Study and Circularity Roadmap in the Latin America and The Caribbean

    Mapping of Stakeholders for the Regional Electronics Study and Circularity Roadmap in the Latin America and The Caribbean

    This document has been developed within the framework of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) project ID: 9771 on Global Best Practices on...

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

    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...

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  • Article
    IPEN, SAICM Report on Chemicals’ Disproportionate Impacts on Women

    IPEN, SAICM Report on Chemicals’ Disproportionate Impacts on Women

    The report illustrates the impact chemicals have on women as a vulnerable group exposed to hazardous chemicals as well as gender inequalities re­lated to decision-making around chemicals and waste management. Women can suffer impacts on reproductive and pregnancy outcomes long after exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Information is lacking on the impacts of women of pharmaceuticals in the environment and nanomaterials.

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  • E-learning
    The E-Waste Challenge

    The E-Waste Challenge

    This course will help the participants to understand why and how to manage e-waste in an environmentally sound manner and how action on e-waste could be taken in their own life, business, or organization.

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  • Video
    SAICM Emerging Policy Issues Video

    SAICM Emerging Policy Issues Video

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  • Factsheets and brochures
    SAICM Factsheet

    SAICM Factsheet

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  • Video
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    We live in a chemical world

    We live in a chemical world. Almost everything we touch contains chemicals.

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  • Video
    Hazardous Substances in the Life Cycle of Electronics and Electrical Products (HSLEEP)

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    Hazardous Substances in the Life Cycle of Electronics and Electrical Products (HSLEEP)

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  • Report
    Tackling informalityin e-waste management: The potential of cooperative enterprises

    Tackling informalityin e-waste management: The potential of cooperative enterprises

    The present paper is the product of a joint effort by the Sectoral Activities Depart-ment and the Cooperatives Unit of the International Labour...

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  • Report
    The global impact of e-waste: Addressing the challenge

    The global impact of e-waste: Addressing the challenge

    Electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) is currently the largest growing waste stream. It is hazardous, complex and expensive to treat in an...

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  • Report
    Report of the International workshop on hazardous substances within the life-cycle of electrical and electronic products, held in Vienna, from 29 to 31 March 2011

    Report of the International workshop on hazardous substances within the life-cycle of electrical and electronic products, held in Vienna, from 29 to 31 March 2011

    Note by the secretariatThe secretariat has the honour to circulate, for the information of participants, the report of the International workshop...

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