Waste from end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment, known as e-waste, is a rapidly growing global problem. E-waste contains valuable materials that have an economic value when recycled. Unfortunately, the majority of e-waste is recycled in the unregulated informal sector where there are significant risks for toxic exposures to the recyclers, who are frequently women and children in poor developing countries.
This article argues that while E-waste recycling is necessary, but it should be conducted in a safe and standardized manor. The acceptable risk thresholds for hazardous, secondary e-waste substances should not be different for developing and developed countries. However, the acceptable thresholds should be different for children and adults given the physical differences and pronounced vulnerabilities of children. Improving occupational conditions for all e-waste workers and striving for the eradication of child labour is non-negotiable.