The launch of Microsoft Vista may initiate a massive wave of computer obsolescence. Where do we put all the refuse? Take a guess…
These women are picking through computer wires that have been exported to rural China for disposal. Once sorted, the wires, insulated with PVC and coated with brominated flame retardants, will be burned and emit carcinogenic fumes (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and dioxins). That’s why we export them.
According to the Basel Action Network, a toxic-dumping watchdog group, more than 50% of obsolete computers are exported to developing countries either whole or dissassembled, where they are processed and disposed of in ways that would violate environmental standards in the First World.
Image: © Basel Action Network 2006.