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How our cell phones and computers affect the health of millions of children around the world

How our cell phones and computers affect the health of millions of children around the world

The World Health Organization is talking about an "e-waste tsunami", with toxic components, recycled by 13 million women and 18 million children and adolescents.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for urgent action from countries that export and import e-waste in order to protect the millions of children, adolescents and pregnant women whose health is threatened by working in the informal industry to dismantle such equipment.

The diagnosis was made in a new report on "Digital Children and Waste", in what the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Ghebreyesus, described as an "e-waste tsunami" with the continuous and accelerating growth of computers, mobile phones and more. Equipment that quickly ends up in the trash when it gets old

Last year, e-waste worldwide was equivalent in size to something like 350 cruise ships and the problem is likely to get worse with only 17.4% of this waste reaching officially licensed spaces for recycling - and the rest ending up illegally in poor countries in Africa. and Asia.

The director of the World Health Organization's Department of Environment and Health, Maria Neira, says it was surprising that they concluded that this type of litter is the household litter that has increased the most in the world.

The World Health Organization estimates that 12.9 million women work in e-waste disposal facilities, “exposing them to toxic substances” that put their health and the health of their children at risk.

On the other hand, there are more than 18 million children and teens working in the treatment of this e-waste, exposed to more than a thousand toxic chemicals such as lead or mercury, in a business or activity that is often the only income from the family.

According to the WHO document, children's young hands are able to recover more valuable components than those of adults, in a work aimed at making use of materials such as gold, copper, silver, zinc, tin and platinum.

The World Health Organization explains that “exposure of a pregnant mother to toxic e-waste can affect the health and development of her fetus,” including miscarriages, premature births or low birth weight babies, as well as various diseases “for the rest of life.”

Other negative effects on a child's health include changes in lung function, adverse respiratory effects, DNA damage, and an increased risk of chronic disease, cancer and cardiovascular disease.