We all have responsibility to ensure our stuff if properly disposed of.

Stephen Leahy, International Environmental Journalist

‘Public largely unaware of the e-waste impacts on human health and environment’

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Nov 1, 2011 (IPS)

Mountains of hazardous waste grow by about 40 million tons every year. This waste, mostly from Europe and North America, is burned in developing countries like Ghana in a hazardous effort to recover valuable metals.

A children’s school in Accra, Ghana’s capital, was recently found to be contaminated by lead, cadmium and other health-threatening pollutants at levels over 50 times higher than risk-free levels. The school is located directly beside an informal electronic waste salvage site.

“Poor people in Africa cannot afford to process Europe’s or America’s electronic wastes,” said Ghanaian researcher Atiemo Sampson.

“Those wastes are poisoning our children,” Sampson told IPS from Accra.

Ghana does not regulate the importation and management of electronic waste, or e-waste. The government hopes to have rules in place next year, he…

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Toxic Electronic Waste Grows by 40 Million Tonnes a Year — Poisons Kids in Africa

A worker cooks computer motherboards over solder to remove chips and valuable metals at a makeshift e-waste workshop.

‘Public largely unaware of the e-waste impacts on human health and environment’

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Nov 1, 2011 (IPS)

Mountains of hazardous waste grow by about 40 million tons every year. This waste, mostly from Europe and North America, is burned in developing countries like Ghana in a hazardous effort to recover valuable metals.

A children’s school in Accra, Ghana’s capital, was recently found to be contaminated by lead, cadmium and other health-threatening pollutants at levels over 50 times higher than risk-free levels. The school is located directly beside an informal electronic waste salvage site.

“Poor people in Africa cannot afford to process Europe’s or America’s electronic wastes,” said Ghanaian researcher Atiemo Sampson.

“Those wastes are poisoning our children,” Sampson told IPS from Accra.

Ghana does not regulate the importation and management of electronic waste, or e-waste. The government hopes to have rules in place next year, he said.

Sampson, a Ph.D. student at the University of Ghana, was involved in testing the school and other areas in Accra near the Agbogbloshie scrap metal site, where more than 100 people break apart and burn electronic trash by hand to obtain valuable metals like copper.

Schoolchildren as young as six years old work around bonfires of circuitry, plastic and other leftover high-tech trash, he said.

A nearby produce market, a church headquarters and a soccer field were similarly polluted, to varying degrees. The soil around the school site had measurements for lead 12 times higher than the levels at which intervention is required. Lead is acutely toxic to children and can permanently damage their growing brains and nervous systems, even at very low levels of exposure.

“We don’t know what the immediate health impacts are. We are hoping to test the children’s blood for contaminants but we have not secured the necessary funding,” Sampson said.

International shipments of electronic trash are outlawed by the Basel Convention. However, European and North American e-waste is often shipped as “electronics for reuse” or hidden with legitimate cargo.

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Watch This Video Before You Buy Any New Electronic Stuff

 

Consumption — buying so much stuff — is one things we have to do differently in 21st century. see Rising Wealth Spells Disaster for the Planet, Study Finds

Electronic gadgets, toys, TVs. phones, computers, IPods and so on are made of toxic and sometimes rare materials. There is lack of proper recycling programs as I have documented in several articles below. But there is an absolutely brilliant new video on all this from the Story of Stuff folks. This is best introduction to the real costs and consequences of the fact that most our electronics stuff  are actually “designed for the dump”  — Stephen.

Tsunami of E-Waste Could Swamp Developing Countries

Is Your Old TV Poisoning a Child in China? Where Your e-waste Goes

30 Million Lead-laden TVs Dumped on Poor Countries

Do consider making a small automatic monthly contribution as a fair exchange for these articles.

Is Your Old TV Poisoning a Child in China? Where Your e-waste Goes

guiyu-china-breaking-open-monitor-exposes-toxic-dust-basel-action-network-smlBy Stephen Leahy
UXBRIDGE, Canada, Nov 14 (IPS)

Is your old TV poisoning a child in China? Or your old computer contaminating a river in Nigeria?

Without a law banning export of toxic electronic waste in the United States, there has been no way to know if old cell phones, computers or televisions originating there didn’t end up in some poor village in the developing world, where desperate people pull them apart by hand to recover some of the valuable metals inside.

A small group of people have now allied with a few responsible recyclers to ensure e-waste can be treated responsibly by creating an e-Stewards certification programme. Announced this week, e-Stewards are electronics waste recyclers that are fully accredited and certified by an independent third party.

Such accreditation is crucial in an industry that often makes fraudulent claims. Currently even when e-waste (electronic trash) goes to a “green” recycler, the chances are high that toxic stuff from the developed world ended up in a huge pile in the middle of some village. Continue reading