E-Waste May Cause Lung Problems

Lung inflammation and oxidative stress shown near e-waste dismantling plant

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) E-waste, or electronic waste, describes computers, televisions, printers and mobile phones that have gone on to meet their maker. Safely processing the 20-50 million tons of e-waste should adhere to worldwide standards.

In the United States, many goverment regulations ensure e-waste is processed correctly. But a large portion of the worldwide e-waste is exported to China, where a recent study took place.

This study involved air samples from an an e-waste dismantling complex and its effects on cultured lung cells when presented with pollution samples from near the plant. Inflammatory as well as oxidative stress responses occurred in the cultured lung cells.

"Recycle your electronic waste correctly; contact a local Goodwill store."

Co-author of the study Dr Fangxing Yang, of Zhejiang University comments that inflammatory response and oxidative stress may lead to DNA damage. DNA damage can lead to tumors or perhaps cancer. Inflammatory response and oxidative stress are also present with heart disease.

Yang continues to present the results as clear evidence that outdoor dismantlement of e-waste is a health hazard and must be banned. The techniques must be improved as current methods used in Taizhou of Zhejiang province are a human health concern. The workers in dismantling plants must be given proper protection.

Yang says that recycling these products is more environmentally friendly and better for health.

The study took air samples from Taizhou of Zhejiang province where an e-waste dismantling complex which recycles more than two million tons of e-waste each year.

Researchers then exposed cultured lung cells to the samples and examined the effect these pollutants had on the cells. The results reveal a significant increase in indicators for inflammatory response and oxidative stress.

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Review Date: 
May 31, 2011
Last Updated:
June 6, 2011