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Impacts of e-waste recycling on Human Health

E-waste recycling has direct and indirect effects on human health conditions.

Direct impacts on human health may be caused by:

  • Dust in indoor air generated in manual and mechanical dismantling processes (e.g. when processing plastics or CRT);
  • Filter dust generated in the mechanical dismantling process;
  • Noise emissions during the manual and mechanical dismantling process (conveyor belts, hammering, shredders etc.);
  • Deviations from occupational safety standards;
For most of these direct impacts SUVA (Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund) has defined MAC (Maximum Allowable Concentration)-values. The compliance with these values should minimize the risk of adverse health effects. In Switzerland, industrial companies are subject to regular controls by SUVA.

Indirect impacts on human health may be caused by:

  • Air pollution related to (HT) incineration (however the situation has been very much improved since waste gas purification systems are a common standard);
  • Emissions due to transportation of materials;
  • Contamination of water systems and soil near landfills.
The indirect impacts on human health are difficult to quantify, among others because of synergistic effects and the time-lag between exposure and reaction.
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