Children and digital dumpsites: e-waste exposure and child health

Children and digital dumpsites: e-waste exposure and child health
Children and digital dumpsites: e-waste exposure and child health

Wednesday, 16 June 2021
10:00-11:30h (EDT, Washington DC)

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Electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) is the fastest growing domestic waste stream in the world. In 2019, according to the Global E-waste Statistics Partnership (GESP), 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste were produced worldwide, but only 17.4% of this was recorded as collected and appropriately recycled. The fate of the remaining e-waste is unknown, and it is likely that it was not managed and recycled in a healthy and environmentally-sound manner. Some e-waste ends up in landfills, while significant amounts are shipped to low- and middle-income countries, often illegally and adding significant burdens to local hazardous waste management infrastructure. Here, informal workers, including children and adolescents, pick through, dismantle, burn, or use acid baths to obtain valuable metals and materials from e-waste items.

Informal methods of extracting valuable materials from e-waste are potentially dangerous to the environment and to human health, particularly to that of children. Informal e-waste recycling activities have been linked to a whole range of health effects. Children, adolescents, and pregnant women are at increased risk to health effects associated with e-waste recycling as they are going through vital stages of physical and neurological development. On 15 June 2021, the World Health Organization releases its first comprehensive report – Children and Digital Dumpsites – on the dimensions of the problem; the pathways through which children are exposed; the health effects associated with the different pathways of exposure; and actions that the health sector can take alongside other sectors to confront this new and insidious health risk globally, nationally, and locally. 

This webinar organized by PAHO discusses the main findings from the report, the scope of the e-waste issue in Latin America, the role of the World Health Organization in tackling and raising awareness of the health effects linked to e-waste in the region and discusses case studies from diverse contexts and organizations working in the region on e-waste. 


Welcome remarks.
Introduction of presenters
Dr. Marcelo Korc
Unit Chief, Climate Change and Environmental Determinants of Health, PAHO/WHO
The Global context: WHO program on children's health and the environment.
Launching of the book:” Children and Digital Dumpsites e-waste exposure and child health”
Dr. Maria Neira
Director Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, WHO
A summary for decision-makers: “Children and Digital Dumpsites: e-waste exposure and child health”  Dr. Marie-Noel Brune-Drisse
Children’s Environmental Health
Chemical Safety and Health Unit
Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, WHO
PAHO’s agenda on health, the environment and climate change
  • Regional challenges on children's health and electronic waste 
Dr. Marcelo Korc
The PAHO-UNIDO Project on e-waste and children’s health  Dr. Agnes Soares
Regional Advisor, Environmental Epidemiology
Climate Change and Environmental Health, PAHO/WHO
  • Bolivia
Dr. Madeleyne Villa Astaca
Técnico en Salud Ambiental
Programa Nacional de Salud Ambiental, Ministerio de Salud y Deportes de Bolivia 
  • Panama
Eng. Atala Milord
Jefa de la Unidad Ambiental Sectorial de la Subdirección General de Salud Ambiental del Ministerio de Salud
E-waste and children’s health in Mexico: a case study Dr. Fernando Díaz-Barriga
División de Estudios Superiores para la Equidad
Centro Colaborador OMS/OPS para la Evaluación de Riesgos en Salud y Salud Ambiental Infantil
Facultad de Medicina - Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí - México
E-waste and children’s health in Uruguay: the response of the health sector Prof. Dr. Amalia Laborde García
Directora, Departamento de Toxicología - CIAT
Facultad de Medicina. Universidad de la República, Hospital de Clínicas
Centro Colaborador de la OMS en Toxicología Ambiental Humana Montevideo Uruguay
Latin America project on electronic waste (PREAL) Mr. Carlos A. Hernández S.
LAC E-Waste Project Coordinator
How and why to put together a plan of action on e-waste having children's health at the center and as its main focus
Dr. Agnes Soares 
Final remarks
Closure of the session
Dr. Marcelo Korc