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E
-
Waste Association of South Africa (eWASA)


2008/015506/08 (Association incorporated under Section 21)

VAT

registration
:

4460254420

Directors: Keith Anderson Zola Bunene Dr Taelo Letsela Mike Miles Andre Nel
Ulze van Wyk Peter Waldburger Chris Whyte


Po Box 25386

Gateway

4321



O
ffice:
031

5
35

7146

Fax:

086

625 9913

www.ewasa.org

1
st

Floor Liberty Life Building

21 Aurora Drive

Umhlanga Ridge

4320






What is e
-
waste?


Electronic and electrical waste includes ICT equipment, Consumer electronics, Small household
appliances and large household appliances.


Why should we recover
e
-
waste?


Electronic and electrical waste contains both valuable and potentially hazardous material that can be
recovered through proper recycling, while hazardous fractions can be treated prior to safe disposal.


Possible Health effects if e
-
waste is mism
anaged


E
-
waste recycling has direct and indirect effects on human health conditions.

Direct impacts on human health may be caused by:



Dust in indoor air generated in manual and mechanical dismantling processes (e.g. when processing
plastics or
Cathode Ray T
ubes (CRTs) found in old TVs and Computer screens);



Filter dust generated in the mechanical dismantling process;



Noise emissions during the manual and mechanical dismantling process (conv
eyor belts, hammering,
shredders etc.);



Deviations from occupational safety standards;

Indirect impacts on human health may be caused by:



Air pollution related to (HT) incineration (however the situation has been very much improved since
waste gas
purification systems are a common standard);



Emissions due to transportation of materials;



Contamination of water systems and soil near landfills.

The indirect impacts on human health are difficult to quantify, among others because of synergistic effects a
nd
the ti me
-
l ag between exposure and reacti on.


Page
2

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8


What could be hazardous?


Substance

Occurrence in e
-
waste

Health effects

Hal ogenated compounds:



-

PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls)

Condensers,
Transformers

PCBs are a cl ass of organi c compounds use i n a
vari ety of appl i cati ons, i ncl udi ng di el ectri c fl ui ds
for capaci tors and transformers, heat transfer
fl ui ds and as addi ti ves i n adhesi ves and pl asti cs.
PCBs have been shown to cause cancer i n
ani mal s. PCBs have

al so been shown to cause a
number of seri ous non
-
cancer heal th effects i n
ani mal s, i ncl udi ng effects on the i mmune
system, reproducti ve system, nervous system,
endocri ne system and other heal th effects. PCBs
are persi stent contami nants i n the envi ronment.

Due to the hi gh l i pi d sol ubi l i ty and sl ow
metabol i sm rate of these chemi cal s, PCBs
accumul ate i n the fat
-
ri ch ti ssues of al most al l
organi sms (bi oaccumul ati on). The use of PCBs i s
prohi bi ted i n
OEC
D

countri es, however, due to
i ts wi de use i n the past, i t sti l l can be found i n
waste el ectri cal and el ectroni c equi pment as
wel l as i n some other wastes.

-

TBBA (tetrabromo
-
bisphenol
-
A)

-

http://
www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts68.ht
ml

">PBB (polybrominated biphenyls)

-

PBDE

(polybrominated diphenyl
ethers)

Fi re retardants for
pl asti cs (thermopl asti c
components, cabl e
i nsul ation)

TBBA i s presentl y
the
most wi del y used fl ame
retardant i n pri nted
wi ri ng boards and
casi ngs.

The three mai n types of BFRS used i n el ectroni c
and el ectri cal appl i ances are Pol ybromi nated
bi phenyl (PBB), Pol ybromi nated di phenyl ether
(PBDE) and Tetrabromobi sphenol
-

A (TBBPA)
.
Flame retardants make materials, especially
plastics and textiles, more flame resistant. They
have been found in indoor dust and air through
migration and evaporation from plastics.
Combustion of halogenated case material and
printed wiring boards at low
er temperatures
releases toxic emissions including dioxins which
can lead to severe hormonal disorders. Major
electronic manufacturers have begun to phase
out brominated flame retardants because of
their toxicity.

-

Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)

Cooling unit,

Insulation
foam

Chlorofluorocarbons are compounds composed
of carbon, fluorine, chlorine, and sometimes
hydrogen. Used mainly in cooling units and
insulation foam, they have been phased out
because when released into the atmosphere,
they accumulate in the

stratosphere and have a
deleterious effect on the ozone layer. This
results in increased incidence of skin cancer in
humans and in genetic damage in many
organisms. For more information go to
http://www.c
-
f
-
c.com/supportdocs/cfcs.htm


-

PVC (polyvinyl chloride)

Cable insulation

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is the most widely
-
used
plastic, used in everyday electronics and
appliances, household items, pipes, upholstrery

etc. PVC is hazardous because contains up to 56
percent chlorine which when burned produces
large quantities of hydrogen chloride gas, which
combines with water to form hydrochloric acid
Page
3

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8


and i s dangerous because when i nhal ed, l eads
to respi ratory probl ems
.

Heavy metals and other metals:



-

Arsenic

Small quantities in the
form of gallium arsenide
within light emitting
diodes

Arsenic is a poisonous metallic element which is
present in dust and soluble substances. Chronic
exposure to arsenic can lead to various diseases
of the skin and decrease nerve conduction
velocity. Chronic exposure to arsenic can also
cause lung cancer and

can often be fatal.

-

Barium

Getters in
CRT
s

Barium is a metallic element that is used in
sparkplugs, fluorescent lamps and "getters" in
vacuum tubes. Being highly unstable in the pure
form, it f
orms poisonous oxides when in contact
with air. Short
-
term exposure to barium could
lead to brain swelling, muscle weakness,
damage to the heart, liver and spleen. Animal
studies reveal increased blood pressure and
changes in the heart from ingesting bariu
m over
a long period of time. The long
-
term effects of
chronic barium exposure to human beings are
still not known due to lack of data on the
effects.

-

Beryllium

Power supply boxes
which contain silicon
controlled rectifiers and
x
-
ray lenses

Beryllium h
as recently been classified as a
human carcinogen because exposure to it can
cause lung cancer. The primary health concern
is inhalation of beryllium dust, fume or mist.
Workers who are constantly exposed to
beryllium, even in small amounts, and who
become

sensitised to it can develop what is
known as Chronic Beryllium Disease
(beryllicosis), a disease which primarily affects
the lungs. Exposure to beryllium also causes a
form of skin disease that is characterised by
poor wound healing and wart
-
like bumps.
Studies have shown that people can still
develop beryllium diseases even many years
following the last exposure.

-

Cadmium

Rechargeable NiCd
-
batteries, fluorescent
layer (CRT screens),
printer inks and toners,
photocopying
-
machines
(printer drums)

Cadmium components may have serious
impacts on the kidneys. Cadmium is adsorbed
through respiration but is also taken up with
food. Due to the long half
-
life in the body,
cadmium can easily be accumulated in amounts
that cause symptoms of poisoning. Cadmiu
m
shows a danger of cumulative effects in the
environment due to its acute and chronic
toxicity. Acute exposure to cadmium fumes
causes flu
-
like symptoms of weakness, fever,
headache, chills, sweating and muscular pain.
The primary health risks of long ter
m exposure
are lung cancer and kidney damage. Cadmium
also is believed to cause pulmonary emphysema
and bone disease (osteomalacia and
osteoporosis). For more information on go to:
http://www.intox.org/databank/documents/che
mical/cadmium/ehc135.htm


-

Chromium VI

Data tapes, floppy
-
disks

Chromium and its oxides are widely used
Page
4

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8


because of thei r hi gh condcti vi ty and anti
corrosi ve

properti es. Whi l e some forms of
chromi um are non toxi c, Chromi um (VI) i s easi l y
absorbed i n the human body and can produce
vari ous toxi c effects wi thi n cel l s. Most
chromi um (VI) compounds are i rri tati ng to eyes,
ski n and mucous membranes. Chroni c exposure

to chromi um (VI) compounds can cause
permanent eye i njury, unl ess properl y treated.
Chromi um VI may al so cause DNA damage. For
more i nformati on, go to
http://w
ww.i ntox.org/databank/documents/che
mi cal/chromi um/ehc61.htm


-

Lead

CRT screens, batteri es,
pri nted wi ri ng boards

Lead i s the fi fth most wi del y used metal after
i ron, al umi ni um, copper and zi nc. It i s
commonl y used i n the el ectri cal and el ectroni cs
i ndust
ry i n sol der, l ead
-
aci d batteri es, el ectroni c
components, cabl e sheathi ng, i n the gl ass of
CRTs etc. Short
-
term exposure to hi gh l evel s of
l ead can cause vomi ti ng, di arrhea, convul si ons,
coma or even death. Other symptoms are
appeti te l oss, abdomi nal pai n,

consti pati on,
fati gue, sl eepl essness, i rri tabi l i ty and headache.
Conti nued excessi ve exposure, as i n an
i ndustri al setti ng, can affect the ki dneys. It i s
parti cul arl y dangerous for young chi l dren
because i t can damage nervous connecti ons and
cause bl ood a
nd brai n di sorders. For more
i nformati on go to
http://www.hc
-
sc.gc.ca/engl i sh/i yh/envi ronment/l ead.html

and
http://www.i ntox.org/databank/documents/che
mi cal/l ead/ukpi d25.htm
.

-

Lithium

Li
-
batteries

Chemical dangers:

Heating may cause violent
combustion or explosion. The substance may
spontaneously ignite on contact with air when
finely dispersed. Upon heating, toxic fumes are
formed. Reacts violently with strong oxidants,
acids and many compounds (hydrocarbons,
haloge
ns, halons, concrete, sand and asbestos)
causing fire and explosion hazard. Reacts
violently with water, forming highly flammable
hydrogen gas and corrosive fumes of lithium
hydroxide.

Read more:
http://www.lenntech.com/Periodic
-
chart
-
elements/li
-
en.htm#ixzz0LnNiT4YC

Effects of short
-
term exposure
:

The substance is
corrosive to the eyes, the skin and the
resp
iratory tract. Corrosive on ingestion.
Inhalation of the substance may cause lung
oedema. The symptoms of lung oedema often
do not become manifest until a few hours have
passed and they are aggravated by physical
effort. Rest and medical observation is
the
refore essential. Immediate administration
of an appropriate spray, by a doctor or a person
Page
5

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authori zed by hi m/her, shoul d be consi dered.
Read more:
http://www.l enn
tech.com/Peri odi c
-
chart
-
el ements/l i
-
en.htm#i xzz0LnNl sXV6


-

Mercury

Fl uorescent l amps that
provi de backl i ghti ng i n
LCDs, i n some al kal ine
batteri es and mercury
wetted swi tches,
Compact Fl orescent
Lamps (CFLs) and
Fl orescent tubes

Mercury i s one of the mos
t toxi c yet wi del y used
metal s i n the producti on of el ectri cal and
el ectroni c appl i cati ons. It i s a toxi c heavy metal
that bi oaccumul ates causi ng brai n and l i ver
damage i f i ngested or i nhal ed. In el ectroni cs
and el ectri cal appl i ances, mercury i s hi ghl y
con
centrated i n batteri es, some swi tches and
thermostats, and fl uorescent l amps. For more
i nformati on go to
http://www.i ntox.org/databank/documents/che
mi cal/mercur
y/ci e322.htm

-

Nickel

Rechargeabl e Ni Cd
-
batteri es or Ni MH
-
batteri es, el ectron gun
i n CRT

An uptake of too l arge quanti ti es of ni ckel has
the fol l owi ng consequences:

-

Hi gher chances of devel opment of l ung cancer,
nose cancer, l arynx cancer and prostate ca
ncer

-

Si ckness and di zzi ness after exposure to ni ckel
gas

-

Lung embol i sm

-

Respi ratory fai l ure

-

Bi rth defects

-

Asthma and chroni c bronchi ti s

-

Al l ergi c reacti ons such as ski n rashes, mai nl y
from jewel l ery

-

Heart di sorders

Ni ckel fumes are respi ratory i rri tants and may
cause pneumoni ti s. Exposure to ni ckel and i ts
compounds may resul t i n the devel opment of a
dermati ti s known as “ni ckel i tch” i n sensi ti zed
i ndi vi dual s. The fi rst symptom i s usual l y i tchi ng,
whi ch occurs up to
7 days before ski n erupti on
occurs. The pri mary ski n erupti on i s
erythematous, or fol l i cul ar, whi ch may be
fol l owed by ski n ul cerati on. Ni ckel sensi ti vi ty,
once acqui red, appears to persi st i ndefi ni tel y.
Read more:
http://www.l enntech.com/Peri odi c
-
chart
-
el ements/Ni
-
en.htm#i xzz0LnO7z0QT

-

Rare Earth elements (Yttrium,
Europium)

Fl uorescent l ayer (CRT
-
screen)

The toxi ci ty of europi um compounds has not
been ful l y i nve
sti gated, but there are no cl ear
i ndi cati ons that europi um i s hi ghl y toxi c
compared to other heavy metal s. The metal
dust presents a fi re and expl osi on hazard.

Water sol ubl e compounds of yttri um are
consi dered mi l dl y toxi c, whi l e i ts i nsol uble
compounds ar
e non
-
toxi c.
[40]

In experi ments on
ani mal s, yttri um and i ts compounds caused l ung
and l i ver damage, though toxi ci ty vari es wi th
di fferent yttri um compounds. In rats, i nhal ati on of
yttri um ci trate

caused
pul monary edema

and
dyspnea
, whi l e i nh
al ation of
yttri um chl ori de

caused l i ver edema,
pl eural effusi ons
, and
Page
6

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pul monary hyperem
i a.
[6]

Exposure to yttri um compounds i n humans may
cause l ung di sease.
[6]

Workers exposed to ai rborne
yttri um europi um vanadate

dust experi enced mi l d
eye, ski n, and upper respi ratory tract i rri tation

tho
ugh thi s may have been caused by the
vanadi um

content rather than the yttri um.
[6]

Acute
exposure to yttri um compo
unds can cause
shortness of breath, coughi ng, chest pai n, and
cyanosi s
.
[6]

NIOSH

recommends a
ti me
-
wei ghted

average

l i mi t of 1

mg/m
3

and an
IDLH

of
500

mg/m
3
.
[65]

Yttri um dust i s fl ammabl e.
[6]

-

Selenium

Ol der photocopyi ng
-
machi nes (photo drums)

Exposure to hi gh concentrati ons of sel eni um
compounds cause sel enosi s. The maj or si gns of
sel enosi s are hai r l oss, nai l bri ttl eness, and
neurol ogi cal abnormal i ti es (s
uch as numbness
and other odd sensati ons i n the extremi ti es).
Source: I nformati on col l ated from
http://www.atsdr.c dc.gov/toxfaq.html


-

Zinc sulphide

I nteri or of CRT screens,
mi xed wi th rare

earth
metal s


Others:



-

Toner Dust

Toner cartri dges for
l aser pri nters / copi ers


Radi o
-
acti ve substances

-

Americium

Medi cal equi pment, fi re
detectors, acti ve
sensi ng el ement i n
smoke detectors

The radi ati on from exposure to ameri ci um i s the
pri mary cause of heal th effects from absorbed
ameri ci um. Ameri ci um moves rapi dl y through
the body after uptake and i s concentrated
wi thi n the bones for a l ong peri od of ti me.
Duri ng thi s storage ameri ci um wi l
l sl owl y decay
and rel ease radi oacti ve parti cl es and rays. These
rays can cause al terati on of geneti c materi al s
and bone cancers.

Read more:
http://www.l enntech.c
om/peri odi c
-
chart
-
el ements/Am
-
en.htm#i xzz0LnRNkSVm




Dioxins


Di oxi ns and furans are a fami l y of chemi cal s compri si ng 75 di fferent types of di oxi n compounds and 135
rel ated compounds known as furans. Di oxi ns


i s taken to mean the fami l y of compounds compri si ng
pol ychl ori nated di benzo
-
p
-
di oxi ns (PCDDs) and pol ychl ori nated di benzofurans (PCDFs). Di oxi ns have
never been i ntenti onal l y manufactured, but form as unwanted by
-
products i n the manufacture of
substances
l i ke some pesti ci des as wel l as duri ng combusti on. Di oxi ns are known to be hi ghl y toxi c to
ani mal s and humans because they bi o
-
accumul ate i n the body and can l ead to mal formati ons of the
foetus, decreased reproducti on and growth rates and cause i mpai rment
of the i mmune system among
other thi ngs. The best
-
known and most toxi c di oxi n i s 2,3,7,8
-
tetrachl orodi benzo
-
p
-
di oxi n (
TCDD
). For
further i nformati on go to
http://www.deh.gov.au/i ndustry/chemi cal s/di oxi ns/pubs/i nci nfi nal.pdf



Valuable Materials

Page
7

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8


The fol l owi ng tabl e presents the composi ti on of a desktop computer pl us a
CRT

screen i n 1996. More than 80%
of the wei ght consi sts of si l ica (gl ass), pl asti cs, i ron and
al umi nium
. Preci ous and scarce materi al s account for
onl y a smal l percentage of the total wei ght. Neverthel ess, the concentrati on of such
metal s, e.g. gol d, i s hi gher
i n a desktop computer than found i n natural l y occurring mi neral ore.


Composition of a Desktop Personal Computer Based on a typical desktop computer, weighing ~27 kg

Material
name

Content (%
of total
weight)

Weight of
material
in
computer (kg)

Use

Location

Plastics

22.9907

6.26

Insulation

Cable, Housing

Lead

6.2988

1.72

Metal joining

Funnel glass in CRTs,
http://www.pwbrc.org/faq10.cfm

">PWB

Aluminum

14.1723

3.86

Structural,
Conductivity

Housing, CRT, PWB, connectors

Germanium

0.0016

< 0.1

Semiconductor

PWBs

Gallium

0.0013

< 0.1

Semiconductor

PWBs

Iron

20.4712

5.58

Structural,
Magnetivity

Housing,CRTs, PWBs

Tin

1.0078

0.27

Metal joining

PWBs, CRTs

Copper

6.9287

1.91

Conductivity

CRTs, PWBs, connectors

Barium

0.0315

< 0.1

Â


Panel glass in CRTs

Nickel

0.8503

0.23

Structural,
Magnetivity

Housing, CRT, PWB

Zinc

2.2046

0.6

Battery, Phosphor
emitter

PWB, CRT

Tantalum

0.0157

< 0.1

Capacitor

Capacitors/PWB,
power supply

Indium

0.0016

< 0.1

Transistor, rectifier

PWB

Vanadium

0.0002

< 0.1

Red Phosphor
emitter

CRT

Terbium

0

0

Green phosphor
activator, dopant

CRT, PWB

Beryllium

0.0157

< 0.1

Thermal
Conductivity

PWB, connectors

Gold

0.0016

< 0.1

Connectivity,
Conductivity

Connectivity, conductivity/PWB,
connectors

Europium

0.0002

< 0.1

Phosphor activator

PWB

Titanium

0.0157

< 0.1

Pigment, alloying
agent

Housing

Ruthenium

0.0016

< 0.1

Resistive circuit

PWB

Cobalt

0.0157

< 0.1

Structural,
Magnetivity

Housing, CRT, PWB

Palladium

0.0003

< 0.1

Connectivity,
Conductivity

PWB, connectors

Manganese

0.0315

< 0.1

Structural,
Magnetivity

Housing, CRT, PWB

Silver

0.0189

< 0.1

Conductivity

Conductivity/PWB, connectors

Antinomy

0.0094

< 0.1

Diodes

Housing, PWB, CRT

Bismuth

0.0063

< 0.1

Wetting agent in
thick film

PWB

Chromium

0.0063

< 0.1

Decorative,
Hardner

Housing

Cadmium

0.0094

< 0.1

Battery, blue
-
green
Housing, PWB, CRT

Page
8

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Phosphor emi tter

Selenium

0.0016

0.00044

Recti fi ers

recti fi ers/PWB

Niobium

0.0002

< 0.1

Wel di ng

Housi ng

Yttrium

0.0002

< 0.1

Red Phosphor
emi tter

CRT

Rhodium

0

Â


Thi ck fi l m
conductor

PWB

Platinum

0

Â


Thi ck fi l m
conductor

PWB

Mercury

0.0022

< 0.1

Batteri es, swi tches

Housi ng, PWB

Arsenic

0.0013

< 0.1

Dopi ng agent i n
transi stors

PWB

Silica

24.8803

6.8

Gl ass, sol id state
devi ces

CRT,PWB



Source: Mi croel ectroni cs and Computer Technol ogy Corporati on (MCC). 1996.

El ectroni cs Industry Envi ronmental Roadmap. Austi n, TX: MCC.