Tighter rules for electronic waste planned

national May 28, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Household trash to be included

THE INDUSTRIAL Works Department is planning to place household electrical and electronic devices under the Dangerous Materials Act.

The move is designed to tackle illegal scavenging of electronic waste, after reports from many areas of health and environmental threats from such activity. 
Department chief Nattapol Nattasomboon said yesterday that many communities, especially in the Northeast, were improperly separating and disposing of electrical appliances and electronic gadgets. 
He said these items were, in many cases, sold to junk traders or scavengers who then stripped the devices for valuable parts such as metal and copper. 
They then deposited the remains of the devices in community dumpsites where the garbage was burned, resulting in pollution and health threats to surrounding communities.
In the past, there was no law to control activities of householders who made a living by separating and disposing of this type of garbage, Nattapol said. 
So he had proposed to the Hazardous Substances Control Committee that it consider including such devices owned by households in the Dangerous Materials Act’s third category. 
This would require people handling the disposal of electrical gadgets and electronic waste to obtain permission and be properly registered. They could then carry out such activities safely, minimising the impact on health and the environment. 
The Dangerous Materials Act normally enforces activities of factories that manufacture or dispose of electronic waste, he explained. 
If this addition to the regulations were approved it could prevent the illegal or improper disposal of this type of garbage.
Masses disposed
According to the Industrial Works Department, 20.88 million electrical and electronic devices were disposed of last year. 
They included 9.14 million landline telephones, 2.43 million television sets, 3.3 million portable audio and video players, 1.99 million personal computers, 1.5 million fax machines, 710,000 air-conditioners and 872,000 refrigerators.
Earlier, it was reported that 67 per cent of residents of tambon Khok Sa-ard in Kalasin’s Khong Chai sub-district, who for the past two decades have been disassembling old electronic devices and selling the recyclable parts for money, had developed health problems from exposure to and substandard disposal of such waste. 
Random blood tests last year found that 21 of the 129 small children tested had a worrying level of lead concentration in their blood, while three of 89 adults tested showed the same problem.

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