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Exposure and health Assessment of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) at e-waste recycling site among workers in the informal sector in Nigeria

Do e-waste workers display enhanced effects of adverse health effects due to informal e-waste processing in Nigeria? Is there a difference between the health outcomes of the exposed and the control groups? Are there difference in health effects within and between job groups (collectors, dismantlers, refurbishers)?

2014 - 2018
The project is funded by the Netherlands Fellowship Programmes (NFP)

This project will adopt a cross-sectional comparative study of e-waste workers and their children. The study design will compare the outcomes in exposed (e-waste workers) and unexposed (control) groups. The survey will include administration of questionnaire, observation of e-waste workers practices, key in-depth interview, policy and stakeholder analysis, assessment of lung function, Body Mass Index (BMI) and cardiovascular parameters among e-waste workers in Lagos and Aba in Nigeria.

Short abstract

Inappropriate management of ‘waste electrical electronic equipment (WEEE)’, also known as E-waste in developing countries has been found to be one of the contributors to the world health challenges, and Nigeria is no exception. In Nigeria there are no evidence-based policies and guidelines that can guide the enforcement of several national and international e-waste regulations to which Nigeria is a signatory. The study aims to fill the evidence gap by identifying the consequences associated with unsafe management of e-waste on e-waste workers and their environment.  It is expected that this study will contribute to evidence- base information that are required for more effective decision making and e-waste programming in Nigeria.

Project description

The need to generate evidence-based information for e-waste programming in Nigeria prompted this study. This in recognition of the fact that e-waste business has become an important economic activity (such as collection, refurbishing, and recycling) providing income and employment opportunities for many small, mostly informal enterprises operating in urban areas. However, the disposal of e-wastes without precautionary protection to health and environment has led to environmental degradation and grave health consequences especially among the e-waste workers. For the purpose of this study the categories of e-waste workers under study include the collectors/ scavengers, dismantlers, and refurbishers/repairers.

 Collectors are those actors that carry out the collection of e-waste; through the formal and informal sectors.  Informal collectors, also known as ‘scavengers’ collect all recyclable waste generally from the household at a price or pick from dumpsites and dustbins. Refurbishers or repairers transform old and/or non-functioning electric and electronic equipment into second-hand and functioning equipment either by replacing or repairing defective components and/or by performing cleaning and repair activities in order to make the second hand equipment appealing to the customers.  They extends the life time of equipment and feed the second hand market.  Dismantlers disassemble obsolete e-waste to recover metals, such as aluminium, copper and steel. While some dismantlers are specialised on e-waste recycling, others engage in the dismantling of various types of wastes containing metals. Some dismantlers also engage in the open burning of cables and other plastic parts in order to recover copper and other metals. Many dismantlers are also active in the collection of waste.

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