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Thursday, August 18, 2005

When PCs pollute

Dust on the floor of workshops in India and China has a lot to say about the unintended afterlife of PCs and television sets cast off by consumers and businesses in the United States.

A new report from Greenpeace International takes a close look at the presence of toxic metals such as lead and chemicals, including flame retardants, in places where obsolete electronic gear is disassembled and often scavenged for its pieces. Its conclusions: E-waste recycling work is dangerously unregulated and further evidence that electronics makers need to take more responsibility for the gear they produce.

"Both wastes and hazardous chemicals used in the processing (of spent electronics) are commonly handled with little regard for the health and safety of the work force or surrounding communities and with no regard for the environment," the report says. "Overall, the result is severe contamination."

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