Taking apart and discarding cell phones, computers, televisions, and other electronic devices can expose people to contaminants that damage the lungs and possibly contribute to cardiovascular disease and cancer. That's according to a study published this week in which researchers took lung samples from workers at one of the largest e-waste dismantling locations in China, where much of the world's electronic waste is discarded.
The study, in the journal of the Institute of Physics, Environmental Research Letters, found that pollutants in the facilities caused potentially harmful inflammation and oxidative stress in lung samples. Some samples also showed evidence of a protein that's typically activated by the body to counteract cell damage.
The researchers said that the study highlights the need to use safer and more environmentally friendly materials in making electronic devices. A follow-up study is planned to identify the pollutants that might be contributing to adverse health effects.
Comparisons of IL-8, ROS and p53 responses in human lung epithelial cells exposed to two extracts of PM2.5 collected from an e-waste recycling area, China [Environmental Research Letters]
‘E-waste pollution’ threat to human health [Institute of Physics]