WHO & UNU Study: Impact of e-waste on children

In an effort to collect more information about the growing problem of e-waste and its effects on children’s health, the United Nations University (UNU) and the World Health Organization (WHO) partnered to create the first global survey investigating the impacts of e-waste recycling on child health.

“Studies like these are so important to bring to light the potential long-term effects e-waste can have if not addressed,” says Olivier Vanden Eynde of Close the Gap and WorldLoop. “They reinforce the impact WorldLoop’s projects are having on the ground. WorldLoop applauds the World Health Organization and United Nations for bringing this topic to the forefront and hopes that stakeholders will continue to push for positive e-waste solutions.”

The results of the survey will soon be made available in a detailed report by the UNU Institute for Sustainability and Peace SCYCLE Operating Unit. Epidemiologists, toxicologists, child health experts, industry representatives, non-governmental organisations representatives and policy makers responded to the online questionnaire. The survey gauged respondents’ knowledge about various discarded electronic and electrical equipment items and the efficacy of protective devices, and respondents were able to share their own work related to e-waste management and developmental health.

The survey hopes to highlight the need for global action to tackle health issues related to e-waste management. These efforts, led by WHO, should complement existing activities of other organisations, to use and build on the expertise of complementary disciplines. This will ensure a holistic approach, taking into account the challenges of proper e-waste management in different regions of the world. Furthermore, survey respondents support the approach, as nearly 90 per cent of them indicated interest in joining a WHO network on e-waste exposure and children’s health.

The WHO e-waste specific website can be found at http://www.who.int/ceh/risks/ewaste/en/