Toxic components of discarded electronics are ending up overseas:
Chris Carroll in National Geographic:
Israel Mensah, an incongruously stylish young man of about 20, adjusts his designer glasses and explains how he makes his living. Each day scrap sellers bring loads of old electronics—from where he doesn’t know. Mensah and his partners—friends and family, including two shoeless boys raptly listening to us talk—buy a few computers or TVs. They break copper yokes off picture tubes, littering the ground with shards containing lead, a neurotoxin, and cadmium, a carcinogen that damages lungs and kidneys. They strip resalable parts such as drives and memory chips. Then they rip out wiring and burn the plastic. He sells copper stripped from one scrap load to buy another. The key to making money is speed, not safety. “The gas goes to your nose and you feel something in your head,” Mensah says, knocking his fist against the back of his skull for effect. “Then you get sick in your head and your chest.” Nearby, hulls of broken monitors float in the lagoon. Tomorrow the rain will wash them into the ocean.
People have always been proficient at making trash. Future archaeologists will note that at the tail end of the 20th century, a new, noxious kind of clutter exploded across the landscape: the digital detritus that has come to be called e-waste.
More here. [Thanks to Marilyn Terrell.]