E-waste and Their Implications on the Environment and Human Health

  • Barkha Vaish
  • Bhavisha Sharma
  • Pooja Singh
  • Rajeev Pratap Singh
Part of the Environmental Chemistry for a Sustainable World book series (ECSW, volume 33)


Rapid influx of modern technology in the past few decades has led to an exponential increase in the usage of the electrical and electronic equipment on a global level. This unprecedented increase, on one hand, has revolutionized the field of communication and information technology, providing a major boost to business and economic activities; however, it has also led to the generation of one of the fastest-growing waste streams in the world, popularly referred to as E-waste. Constituents of E-waste are both hazardous and nonhazardous and valuable, comprising of toxic elements (Cd, Cr, Hg, As, Pb, Se), radioactive active substances, halogenated compounds (polychlorinated biphenyls, polybrominated biphenyls, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, chlorofluorocarbon, etc.), plastics, glass, ceramics, rubber, ferrous and non-ferrous metals (Al, Cu) and precious metals like Au, Ag, and Pt. With 20–50 million tonnes of global E-waste generation and an anticipated growth of 33%, the problem of rapidly growing E-waste is an issue faced by both developed and developing countries of the world. Additionally, unscientific and crude disposal and recycling practices for management of E-waste have severe implications for the environment and human health resulting from release and exposure to toxic emissions and constituents. In view of the above, the present chapter attempts to provide a brief insight on the global trends of E-waste generation, critical issues and challenges associated with E-waste and its effects on environmental and human health, thereby highlighting the need for sustainable environmental management of this newer waste stream.


E-waste Heavy metal toxicity Environment Human health Sustainable waste management 



The authors are thankful to the Dean & Head, Department of Environment and Sustainable Development and Director, Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development, Banaras Hindu University, for providing necessary facilities. RPS is thankful to the Department of Science and Technology for providing financial support (DST-SERB P07-678). BS is thankful to the University Grants Commission for awarding Junior and Senior Research Fellowship. BV is also thankful to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research for awarding Senior Research Fellowship.

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barkha Vaish
    • 1
  • Bhavisha Sharma
    • 1
  • Pooja Singh
    • 2
  • Rajeev Pratap Singh
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environment and Sustainable Development, Institute of Environment and Sustainable DevelopmentBanaras Hindu UniversityVaranasiIndia
  2. 2.Department of Science, Institute of Computer Science and TechnologySHEPAVaranasiIndia

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