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National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

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NIEHS Support for E-Waste Research

NIEHS Support for E-Waste Research

At the Working Group on E-Waste and Children’s Health meeting convened by WHO in June and co-sponsored by NIEHS and Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, NIEHS Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., stressed the importance of understanding and mitigating against the effects of e-waste recycling.

“Having this group review the current situation of e-waste exposure in children, identify research gaps, and highlight successful interventions and strategies will help us determine our next steps,” she said in opening remarks to the participants via a prerecorded video. “E-waste and the impact that it can have on health is a major topic of concern for all of you and for us at NIEHS, especially the impact it has on pregnant women and young children living so close to e-waste recycling sites.”

Chen and Huo were among the approximately 60 experts and other key stakeholders from WHO, other UN agencies, and research institutions. Next steps include creation of a network of researchers willing to share data and disseminate findings, dedicated sessions on e-waste at the Pacific Basin Consortium Meeting and the Fourth WHO International Conference on Children’s Environmental Health, and several publications. In addition, NIEHS will develop a white paper that connects the discussions and recommendations of the meeting as they relate to the mission of the Institute.

people working in a ewaste recycling plant
As they process e-waste, workers - often women and children - are directly exposed to toxic chemicals.
(Photo courtesy of Xia Huo, Shantao University)