Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Electronic Waste

Guiyu is the largest electronic waste (e-waste) site on earth, and was first documented fully in December 2001 by the Basel Action Network in their report and documentary film entitled Exporting Harm . The health and environmental issues exposed by this report and subsequent scientific studies have greatly concerned international organisations such as the Basel Action Network and later Greenpeace and the United Nations Environment Programme and the Basel Convention.

A great many of the primitive recycling operations in Guiyu are toxic and dangerous to workers' health. These include operations by the many thousands of workers who cook circuit boards to remove chips and solders, burn wires and other plastics to liberate metals such as copper, use highly corrosive and dangerous acid baths along the riverbanks to extract gold from the microchips, and sweep printer toner out of cartridges. Children are exposed to the dioxin-laden ash. The soil has been saturated with lead, chromium, tin, and other heavy metals. The water is undrinkable and must be trucked in from villages farther out. Lead levels in the river sediment are double European safety levels, according to the Basel Action Network. [3] Piles of ash and plastic waste sit on the ground beside rice paddies and dikes holding in the Lianjiang river.

Noxious chemicals and metals, such as lead, are released when the used electronics are dunked into pits of acid and heated over coal-fueled grills. Researchers at the Hong Kong Baptist University previously demonstrated in March that the soil at these recycling centers possessed the highest concentrations of dioxin and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE), a commonly used flame retardant linked to abnormal thyroid metabolism and brain development. Another study showed that workers' blood levels at the sites contained levels of heavy PBDE-BDE–209 50 to 200 times higher than the norm.

These results are "not surprising," said Oladele Ogunseitan, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, who added: "The significance of the paper is to provide us with the first estimate of what [levels] to expect. As a next step, what needs to be done is as an epidemiological study looking for actual symptoms, but I imagine that this is not a trivial thing to do."

"I've always advocated that the U.S. must now take very seriously the Basel Convention that prohibits the shipment of hazardous wastes to other countries. We are, in principle, a country that will do this kind of thing on purpose. But by our inaction on international laws that protect vulnerable populations all over the world, we are essentially saying that it's OK," he explained, stating that the U.S. in particular bears much of the blame since it exports approximately 50-80% of its e-waste to China.

In 2007, conditions in Guiyu have changed little despite the efforts of the central government to crack down and enforce the long-standing e-waste import ban.[citation needed] Visitors to the city still experience headaches and strange metallic tastes in the mouth. Recent studies have revealed some of the highest levels of dioxin ever recorded.

source from guiyu wikispace & http://www.treehugger.com/

A Documentary About Electronic Waste Dumping

if you want to check more about this, you can come to this guy's website http://michaelzhao.net/ . There is a new 20 mins documentary finished in Nov 2007.

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