Our Purpose

The e-waste network aims to establish, further expand and foster cooperation through a network of experts and international stakeholders in the area of e-waste management by:

  • Closely coordinating intervention programs with WHO departments, UN agencies, WHO collaborating centres and other groups
  • Closely collaborating with WHO collaborating centers, partners, and NGOs and by involving further stakeholders 
  • Setting up a platform for exchange as a tool to build this network

Network Background

In June, 2013, the World Health Organisation (WHO) convened a workshop of international scientists, policy experts, and United Nations representatives to discuss the challenges of exposure of children and vulnerable populations to the toxic substances resulting from improper management of waste from electronic and electrical equipment (e-waste). The purpose of the meeting  was to review the current situation of e-waste exposures and child health, research gaps, and successful interventions in order to identify needs, key partners and define next steps in public health.

The outcomes of the meeting were to raise awareness of the threat of  e-waste management to child health; to establish a network of experts and international stakeholders in the area of e-waste management and to plan, prepare and engage in concrete interventions to prevent and reduce exposures to e-waste.

E-Waste Declaration

The 2013 Geneva Declaration on E-Waste and Children’s Health aims to raise awareness of human health risks by exposures to e-waste. The declaration expresses the authors’ major concerns for human health, especially children’s health, resulting from unsound management of e-waste. In addition it calls upon global stakeholders to intervene on this issue.  Stakeholders worldwide are encouraged to:

  • Implement measures to prevent and reduce exposure to e-waste derived hazardous substances
  • Enforce existing regulations
  • Establish precise regulations on sound e-waste management.

Recent articles on the health effects of E-Waste exposure

  • E-Waste and Harms to Vunerable Populations: A Growing Global Problem: Environmental Health Perspectives. Heacock M, Bain Kelly C, Asante KA, Birnbaum LS, Lennart Bergman A, Bruné M, Buka I, Carpenter DO, Chen A, Huo X, Kamel M, Landrigan PJ, Magalini F, Diaz-Barriga F, Neira M, Omar M, Pascale A, Ruchirawat M, Sly L, Sly PD, Van den Berg M, Suk WA. (2016) The e-waste problem has been building for decades. Increased observation of adverse health effects from e-waste sites calls for protecting human health and the environment from e-waste contamination. Even if e-waste exposure intervention and prevention efforts are implemented, legacy contamination will remain, necessitating increased awareness of e-waste as a major environmental health threat.
  • E-Waste: A Global Hazard, Annals of Global Health: Perkins DN, Brune Drisse MN, Nxele T, Sly PD (2014).Waste from end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment, known as e-waste, is a rapidly growing global problem. E-waste contains valuable materials that have an economic value when recycled. Unfortunately, the majority of e-waste is recycled in the unregulated informal sector and results in significant risk for toxic exposures to the recyclers, who are frequently women and children.
  • E-Waste: Health Impacts in Developing Countries, EHS Journal:  Kumar SN, Jain AK (2014)
  • Global E-waste Monitor 2014. Quantities, flows and resources. Baldé, C.P., Wang, F., Kuehr, R., Huisman, J. (2015), The global e-waste monitor – 2014, United Nations University, IAS – SCYCLE, Bonn, Germany. 
  • Health consequences of exposure to e-waste: a systematic review, The Lancet Global Health: The population exposed to potentially hazardous substances through inappropriate and unsafe management practices related to disposal and recycling of end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment, collectively known as e-waste, is increasing. This systematic review aimed to summarise the evidence for the association between such exposures and adverse health outcomes. To read the full systematic review, please click here.              
  • UNU & WHO Survey  on E-waste and its Health Impact on Children: Following the launch of a new initiative by WHO addressing electronic waste and child health, the United Nations University (UNU), which hosts the Solving the E‐waste Problem (StEP) Initiative, and WHO carried out an on‐line survey with a wider body of experts. The survey highlights the need for joint action to tackle health issues related to e-waste management around the world. These efforts, led by WHO, should complement existing activities of other organizations, 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. To read the Final Report, please click here. To read the full correspondence, please click here
  • Electronic waste - time to take stock, The Lancet: The residents of Agbogbloshie, a town of around 40 000 people near Accra, Ghana, depend on discarded electronic equipment for their survival. Used fridges, computers, mobile phones, and other electronic devices are collected, dismantled, and processed to extract valuable components, such as copper and gold, earning residents less than US$1 per day. The town, the industry, and the health consequences provide a microcosm of a major emerging public health threat in the developing world, that of electronic waste (e-waste) recycling.