India has emerged as fifth largest electronic waste producer in world. Medical equipment contributes to about 8% of the annual e-waste production and it is growing.
Toxins in e-waste include lead glass, batteries, as well as mercury, cadmium, chromium and ozone-depleting substances (CFCs). Electronic waste accounts for 40% of lead and 70% of heavy metals found in landfills. These pollutants are responsible for groundwater contamination, air pollution and soil acidification.
Health problems associated with such toxins include impaired mental development, cancer, and damage to livers and kidneys.
THINK! Are you un-intentionally causing harm to fellow human beings?
Why condemn medical equipment through certified e-waste recyclers?
E-waste contains several toxic materials such as mercury, lead, and cadmium, which must be processed, recycled and disposed responsibly in order to prevent harm to the eco-system.
Unfortunately, about 95% of the electronic waste produced in India is handled by the informal recycling sector, improperly using crude techniques and polluting processes (like open air incineration, acid stripping and manual dismantling) and employ poorly paid workers, including women and children in these hazardous processes, which leads to environmental pollution and grave health risks.
In order to prevent aforementioned environmental pollution and health hazards associated with electronic waste, and ensure recovery of valuable resources, one needs to look for a good electronic waste recycler, who ensures sustainable and responsible recycling. These organizations also abide by data security standards. Data security is essential for both individuals (such as patient confidentiality) and hospitals who handle patient data. If medical records are stored electronically and these electronics reach the end of their useful lives, the data on them must be destructed to ensure that information is not misused. Responsible e-waste recyclers ensure that their data is either put straight into processing or kept in a secure place until its processing and destruction occurs.
We also need to be aware that NABH requires hospitals to maintain records of having disposed-off condemned equipment responsibly.
Globally there exist some of the following e-waste certification programmes (an indicative list) which include guidelines that define responsible and effective e-waste management:
- R2 Solutions (R2)
- The Recycling Industry Operation Standard (RIOS)
- The Basel Action Network (e-Stewards)
Medical equipment help SAVE lives in the hospital.
Let us ensure they do not HARM lives after they are disposed-off.
Take care to dispose condemned equipment responsibly!