Excessive waste disposal has become an increasingly pressing concern in recent years. Millions of tons of waste are produced globally each year, affecting the Earth in highly dangerous ways. However, the sheer amount of this waste is not the only concern. The type and disposal method of waste can also significantly impact the environment. Electronic waste, often referred to as e-waste, is one such type of waste that poses significant risks to the safety of the environment as a whole. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize the impact improper e-waste disposal can have. Below are just a few of the many harmful effects of e-waste on the environment.
Effects on soil
One of the most harmful effects of e-waste on the environment is the potential destruction of soil. The chemicals and materials used to create many electronic products aren’t biodegradable, meaning the item won’t break down. Instead, the chemicals will slowly leach into the soil, negatively impacting the soil and the plant life nearby. This can significantly affect wildlife and agriculture in the area. Crops can’t grow as easily in contaminated soil, and natural wildlife may become stunted. The contaminated soil not only impacts the survival of natural wildlife, but also has a harmful effect on humans who are repeatedly exposed to it. Regular exposure to contaminated soil can affect brain, liver, heart, and kidney health, and it can even cause serious damage to the nervous and reproductive systems.
Effects on water
As we’ve stated, the harmful toxins from e-waste leach into soil and directly impact the surrounding environment. Through this process, the toxins can also reach groundwater channels. Heavy metal toxins, which may include lead, barium, mercury, or lithium, can then be transported to water sources aboveground, such as streams, ponds, or small lakes. Many communities depend on these water sources for safe water, and when the sources become contaminated, these communities can suffer. Aquatic wildlife may also suffer, and entire ecosystems may begin to disappear.
Effects on air
Almost all waste deposited in a landfill is incinerated on-site. This may not pose significant concerns for some types of waste, but burning e-waste is quite dangerous. Burning e-waste results in the emission of harmful hydrocarbons into the atmosphere. Hydrocarbons are a large contributing factor to greenhouse gases, and they can be very dangerous if inhaled.
For these reasons, it’s extremely important that a professional handles your e-waste disposal. Consulting an expert in the field will ensure the waste is removed in a way that’s safe for both the handling individual and the environment as a whole.