Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Discarded Electronics Pose Global Threat to Health and Safety

Recently, several media outlets throughout southern Africa have noted the growing problem with e-waste throughout the region. The U.S. EPA Administrator recently highlighted the environmental danger posed to communities throughout the world by "e-waste." E-Waste is a term used to describe waste produced from discarded cell phones, televisions, computers, and other electrical components.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson addressed a meeting in Alexandria, Virginia, of Interpol’s Global E-Waste Crime Group May 25. Jackson noted, “I don’t need to go to Africa or China or India to know about the electronics that are discarded at open dumpsites, the copper wires burning in open-air incinerators, or the acid used to strip gold and other metals for resale. I don’t need to go there to know about the ash-blackened rivers or the toxic fumes polluting the air. And I don’t need to go there to know that workers are getting sick, and so are their children. I know all this, and so do each of you.”

However, Jackson pointed out, “While it poses serious challenges, the problem of e-waste also presents opportunities,” Jackson said. “Opportunities here in America and other developed countries to promote green jobs, spur innovation and jump-start a responsible domestic recycling industry. Opportunities to partner with developing countries to create safe jobs, a healthy environment to raise a family, and better infrastructure and training programs — and to showcase the environmental and economic benefits of responsible reuse, recycling and disposal.”

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Photo caption: A worker at an e-waste company sits behind a pile of computer keyboards slated for recycling at a factory in Manesar, India.

Photo courtesy AP Images.

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