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Dirty little smart phones: Ted Smith on the toxins in digital gadgets

28 Mar

See on Scoop.itShelly’s Interests

You have to think about the whole life cycle of the product. The amount of materials that go into building a cell phone, a computer or a tablet is really astounding. They require huge amounts of metals, so you have all the mining issues. Everything from the conflict minerals in Congo, to gold mining — which is terribly destructive for the environment — to copper, to some of the very exotic rare earth metals. These are extremely hazardous to both human health and the environment.

Beyond the raw materials, the production of components involves a huge number of chemicals — very exotic chemicals. There’s unfortunately a pretty serious track record of the people making those components getting very sick. There are cancer clusters in several parts of the world where electronics are made. Right now the most well defined one is in Korea. Over 100 young workers have gotten cancer after working in the factories making various Samsung products.

You also have huge amounts of e-waste, containing hazardous chemicals and metals. People around the world are getting sick taking apart these products to scavenge the resources. Throughout the lifecycle, there are millions of people being exposed to these hazards. Unfortunately the problem continues to grow because so little attention is being paid to it.

See on www.globalpost.com