Prevention-intervention strategies to reduce exposure to e-waste

Rev Environ Health. 2018 Jun 27;33(2):219-228. doi: 10.1515/reveh-2018-0014.


As one of the largest waste streams, electronic waste (e-waste) production continues to grow in response to global demand for consumer electronics. This waste is often shipped to developing countries where it is disassembled and recycled. In many cases, e-waste recycling activities are conducted in informal settings with very few controls or protections in place for workers. These activities involve exposure to hazardous substances such as cadmium, lead, and brominated flame retardants and are frequently performed by women and children. Although recycling practices and exposures vary by scale and geographic region, we present case studies of e-waste recycling scenarios and intervention approaches to reduce or prevent exposures to the hazardous substances in e-waste that may be broadly applicable to diverse situations. Drawing on parallels identified in these cases, we discuss the future prevention and intervention strategies that recognize the difficult economic realities of informal e-waste recycling.

Keywords: electronic recycling; electronic waste (e-waste); environmental health; global health; intervention; prevention.

MeSH terms

  • Asia
  • Developing Countries* / statistics & numerical data
  • Electronic Waste / analysis*
  • Environmental Exposure / prevention & control*
  • Ghana
  • Humans
  • Recycling / statistics & numerical data*
  • Uruguay
  • Waste Management / statistics & numerical data*