Monday, July 30, 2007

From Our Town Dump to.....The fate of high tech waste, the journey begins

Crossposted from Earth Forum:

Sidney's post on Waste Management, prompted me to add this post. When I read his title, my own thoughts jumped to management of e-waste (and wondered if this would be covered at that meeting.)

From my impression, this one of those waste issues where growing awareness is making a difference. In my own town, for example, you can rid yourself of computers, televisions and any electronic waste for something like five dollars. But the question is - then what? Turns out it "used" to go into a box car and then apparently on to China. I emphasize "used to" because that's only what I am told. The change, presumably, occurred because of environmental and health concerns. But at the moment no one can tell me if they've really changed their practices (it's something I'm looking into for a future article on the stuff.)

Two articles recently published in Environmental Science and Technology reveal the high risk to residents and workers caused by the dismantling of e-waste in regions where environmental laws are lax or nonexistent. The first article, by Huiru Li and others, is entitled " Severe PCDD/F and PBDD/F Pollution in Air around an Electronic Waste Dismantling Area in China " and the other by Xinhui Bi and others "Exposure of Electronics Dismantling Workers to Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers, Polychlorinated Biphenyls and Organochlorine Pesticides in South China," describe the exceedingly high concentrations of these toxic chemicals to which not only workers but local residents are exposed during the dismantling processes.

For those interested in further reading on the subject, check out "High Tech Trash," written by Elizabeth Grossman, published by Island Press. An informative and sobering book, through which I'm slowing making my way.


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