U.S. tech trash poisons Chinese villages

Chen Wu was happy when his village became a dumping ground for discarded computer hardware from the United States.

Salvaging computer parts meant jobs for this rural area of China's southeast - even if it did poison the drinking water and create an unsightly landscape of broken circuit boards and hard drives.

But Chen's attitude changed two years ago when his 11-year-old daughter grew weak, suffered nose bleeds and was diagnosed with leukemia. Two of her classmates were stricken by the same illness.

Teachers say more than half the students complain of chronic breathing problems.

"We did not care much when outsiders talked about the environmental pollution here. We did not see any harm," said Chen, 50, who works at a drug rehabilitation center. "But now our kids are getting sick."

Environmental groups consider Guiyu, a cluster of five villages in Guangdong province about 150 miles northeast of Hong Kong, a cautionary tale for poor countries that accept high-tech waste.

Over the last decade, these groups say, as much as 80 percent of the old computers, monitors and printers collected for "recycling" in the United States wound up in China, India and Pakistan, according to a report released Monday by environmental groups, documenting the flood of e-waste to the southeaster Chinese villages.

Most of the e-trash, which environmentalists say comes mostly from brokers and recyclers who collect old equipment from larger U.S. businesses, ends up in Guangdong, in Guiyu and other towns.

News source: The Nando Times

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