Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Poisoning the poor – Electronic Waste in Ghana

Poisoning the poor – Electronic Waste in Ghana

Boys burning electronic cables and other electrical components in order to melt off the plastic and reclaim the copper wiring. This burning in small fires releases toxic chemicals into the environment.

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Ghana — The latest place where we have discovered high tech toxic trash causing horrendous pollution is in Ghana. Our analysis of samples taken from two electronic waste (e-waste) scrap yards in Ghana has revealed severe contamination with hazardous chemicals.

The ever-growing demand for the latest fashionable mobile phone, flat screen TV or super-fast computer creates ever larger amounts of obsolete electronics that are often laden with toxic chemicals like lead, mercury and brominated flame retardants. Rather than being safely recycled, much of this e-waste gets dumped in developing countries. Previously, we have exposed pollution from e-waste scrap yards in China and India. Nigeria has also been identified as a dumping ground for old electronics.

During our investigation into the shady e-waste trade, we uncovered evidence that e-waste is being exported, often illegally, to Ghana from Europe and the US. We visited Ghana to investigate workplace contamination from e-waste recycling and disposal in the country.

In the yards, unprotected workers, many of them children, dismantle computers and TVs with little more then stones in search of metals that can be sold. The remaining plastic, cables and casing is either burnt or simply dumped: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/news/poisoning-the-poor-electroni

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