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U.S. Electronic Waste Gets Sent to Africa

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posted on Aug, 2 2009 @ 09:18 PM
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Electronic junk from America finds its way to Africa. Debris in the Agbogbloshie dumpsite in Ghana has been identified as computer pieces with decals from the Washington Metro Transit Authority, U.S. Army, State of Connecticut Mental Heath Facility, and other U.S. city, state and federal agencies. Even computers with the label of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were found at the dump.



Some of the children are aware that breaking open junked electronics exposes them to potentially harmful chemicals, such as lead, mercury and cadmium. Many don't know. No one is deterred.

Yusef Nashedu, 12, has been mining the field for copper for the past three years. He goes to school weekdays and comes here after school. On weekends, he spends all day in the dumpsite.

"Sometimes, I feel sick," Yusef said. "In my body, I can't feel free."

Dressed in short pants, a dirty polo shirt and plastic yellow flip-flops, Yusef shuffles through the jagged debris, stooped over, looking for copper wires.

Some of the children built fires on which they toss large hunks of discarded electronics. The fire melts the plastic, revealing the copper wires inside. The fire also releases toxic fumes.

"We are looking at immense health implications," said Mike Anane, a local environmental activist who frequently visits the Agbogbloshie field to warn the children and adults of the dangers of what they are doing.

"For the kids, we're talking about lowering the IQ as a result of the lead, of the mercury, even the cadmium. It affects the nervous system. These are kids. Their bodies are very vulnerable," Anane said.

It is difficult to trace where the e-waste comes from. Most of it has been shattered or broken into pieces that bear no identifying markings. But among the scattered junk are a few items with labels.

Anane held up computer pieces with decals for the Washington Metro Transit Authority, U.S. Army, State of Connecticut Mental Heath Facility, and other U.S. city, state and federal agencies. According to environmental group Greenpeace, even computers with the label of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were found at the dump.


Full Article: abcnews.go.com...

It's horrible that these kids are at risk, and we should find a better dumping spot. But their method of extracting the wire by burning the object is rather ingenius, even though it is deadly.




posted on Aug, 2 2009 @ 09:47 PM
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Just think about all the data that could still be on those hard drives. I remove and keep the hard drive off every computer I have ever owned because I am afraid of it getting in the wrong hands. Just think about all the SSN, bank account numbers, PIN numbers, and address and who knows what else is on those drives.



posted on Aug, 2 2009 @ 09:50 PM
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I'm surprised that we don't have a commercially viable way to more effectively recycle this stuff.

I mean, we need the material, we 'buy' it, don't we?

I do feel terribly about the children. I wonder how much we spend poisoning those less able to protect themselves from such things?



posted on Aug, 2 2009 @ 10:19 PM
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Oh sorry for giving dirt poor third worlder's an opportunity to make some money. Maybe we should be hiring them to be our lawyers or perform our engineering projects instead, but they dont have that capability.

So instead we send our junk e waste to them to strip and get back the usable parts into the marketplace. Sure robots would be more effective but we dont have that tech yet.

As for the toxins, maybe you would prefer them to be released in your town instead? Or wait maybe you would prefer to pay an extra $200 for a computer knowing that it never gave a poor third wolrder an opportunity to make any money off it. You know strictly assembled, recycled, manufactured by rich westerners never touched by any undesirables.



posted on Aug, 3 2009 @ 09:25 AM
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Originally posted by Desolate Cancer
Oh sorry for giving dirt poor third worlder's an opportunity to make some money. Maybe we should be hiring them to be our lawyers or perform our engineering projects instead, but they dont have that capability.

So instead we send our junk e waste to them to strip and get back the usable parts into the marketplace. Sure robots would be more effective but we dont have that tech yet.

As for the toxins, maybe you would prefer them to be released in your town instead? Or wait maybe you would prefer to pay an extra $200 for a computer knowing that it never gave a poor third wolrder an opportunity to make any money off it. You know strictly assembled, recycled, manufactured by rich westerners never touched by any undesirables.


We should be sorry for fostering commerce in the third world without ensuring that people wouldn't be made ill or die so some rich friend can profit. The fact that they are dirt poor has nothing to do with the consumer, it has to do with their own government and social priorities.

Why we don't insist on appropriate safeguards and practices is beyond reason (unless commerce really is more important than human suffering - ask Hillary.)

These people, the one's who get sick, don't blame the local mogul who brought them jobs to keep them alive - but still in poverty, they blame America. As if the average American even knows about this.

[edit on 3-8-2009 by Maxmars]



posted on Aug, 3 2009 @ 09:57 AM
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But they dont perform these tasks of scavenging through this waste because they have so many other options.

They do it because thats the best choice for those individuals in that situation to make some sort of living.

I agree with you that ideally the whole situation would be different, but I mean that is a whole other conversation. Unfortunately it is also very idealistic and (utopian?) I mean the world is a messed up place. It has been for all of history, its just that now we are more aware of it. There are fewer people in poverty as a % now than ever before.

If we were to take away the ewaste from these people then what would they do?



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