Saturday, 19 December 2009

African Children Are Being Poisoned By Discarded Electronics


A recent expose on ABC.com revealed that many electronic products discarded by developed nations like Germany, the U.S. and Britain end up in Africa, and they’re poisoning the continent’s children with harmful toxins like lead, cadmium and mercury.

In a region of Accra, Ghana, nicknamed Soddom and Gomorrah, tons of the developed world’s electronic waste such as discarded computers is shipped there every year, with most of the items being disassembled and burned by local children. The poverty-stricken children, some as young as eight years old, even harvest the leftover scrap metal to sell, exposing themselves to large amounts of heavy metals and carcinogenic fumes.

This not only affects the health of young children, but a soil and river analysis conducted last year by a Greenpeace scientist also found extremely high levels of lead, cadmium, arsenic, dioxins, furans and polychlorinated biphenyls.

The same happens in other countries such as Nigeria, Vietnam, India, China and the Philippines. The UN estimates that about 50 million tons of e-waste is thrown away each year, with much of it ending up in developing countries. It costs about $5.30 to properly dispose of an old CRT monitor from Germany, but only costs about $2.20 to throw it on a ship to Ghana.

Although dumping unauthorized e-waste in poor nations is prohibited, the system is largely unregulated. It was recently found that Germany is shipping about 100,000 tons of discarded electronics south each year, even though the country has some of the strictest e-waste laws.

This e-waste problem doesn't seem to be getting much attention - perhaps it's time it was.


Via: ABC
Photo via: Guardian

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