The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of soaring e-waste, which affects the health of millions of children, increasing risk of chronic ailments such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases, with more than 18 million children and adolescents globally exposed to the harmful substance.
The First WHO report on e-waste and child health, published yesterday, said exposure of pregnant women to e-waste could lead to stillbirth, premature births, low birth weight, behavioural problems, and reduced cognitive scores.
The WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the world faces a mounting problem of e-waste, which is putting many lives and health at risk. “With mounting volumes of production and disposal, the world faces what one recent international forum described as a mounting ‘tsunami of e-waste’, putting lives and health at risk.
“In the same way the world has rallied to protect the seas and their ecosystems from plastic and microplastic pollution, we need to rally to protect our most valuable resource – the health of our children – from the growing threat of e-waste.” According to the WHO ground-breaking report titled: Children and Digital Dumpsites, effective and binding action is urgently required to protect the millions of children, adolescents and expectant mothers worldwide whose health is jeopardised by the informal processing of discarded electrical or electronic devices.
The report further highlighted how little e-waste – castoff phones, computers and other electronics – originates in African nations, as the enormous amounts of e-waste generated by China, the United States, India and other western countries is landing in hazardous dumpsites that impact the health and environment of African children.
The Central African Republic generated just 2.5 kilotonnes of e-waste in 2019, while China was responsible for 10,129. People in Malawi created 10 kilotonnes in 2019, while Japan created 2,569. Egypt, among the African nations with the highest e-waste impact, generated 586 kilotonnes, while the U.S. created nearly 12 times that much.
The Guardian gathered that Nigeria generated 461.3 kilotonnes (KT) in 2019 to rank the highest in West Africa and second after Egypt on the continent. The 461.3kilotonnes amounts to $166,060,000 (N64.2 Billion). Meanwhile, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroun are top destinations for e-waste shipped to dumps that attract thousands of informal workers, including many children who scavenge for valuable materials.
MEANWHILE, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) have agreed to strengthen collaboration towards more effective regulation of electronic waste management in Nigeria.