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By Jessica Orchitt

A child sits among the piles of e-waste

2007 Basel Action Network (BAN)

What is e-waste?
E-waste is short for Electronic waste, the term used to describe old, end-of-life or discarded appliances that use electricity. It includes but is not limited to computers, consumer electronics, and fridges which have been disposed of or recycled.

Laborer heating aqua regia -- a mixture of 5% pure nitric acid and 75% pure hydrochloric acid -- a mixture that will dissolve gold. Without any respiratory protection workers inhale acid fumes, chlorine and sulphur dioxide gas all day as they swirl computer chips removed from circuit boards in acid to collect tiny amounts of gold. The sludge's from the process are dumped directly into the river. Guiyu, China. December 2001.
2006 Basel Action Network (BAN)

A boy hauls electronic scrap from Alaba market in Lagos, Nigeria to this nearby informal dump sitting on a swamp.
2006 Basel Action Network (BAN

Burn houses in distance and smoke where computer parts from the United States are burned. These e-waste "crematoria" are constructed apparently to avoid "open burning". However the impacts on the workers with little ventilation will be worse than open air burning. Guiyu, China.
May 2008 2008 Basel Action Network (BAN)

Electronics have become part of the throw away culture of developed countries. The amount of electronic waste (e-waste) that is discarded every year in developed countries continues to grow rapidly.

Migrant child from Hunan province sits atop one of countless piles of unrecyclable computer waste imported from around the world. Guiyu, China.
2006 Basel Action Network (BAN)

Typical E-scrapping dismantling operation. 100,000 such migrant workers labor in Guiyu breaking down imported computers in hundreds of small operations like this one in a 4 village area surrounding the Lianjiang River. Guiyu, China.
2006 Basel Action Network (BAN)

Guiyu is one of the biggest e-waste centers of the world. More than a million ton of e-waste is dismantled in this Chinese village every year. Women, children and men work under terrible conditions to extract all the precious metals from circuit boards, computers, pc's and other electronics.
Nov. 1, 2008 Bert van Dijk

Last year alone, the United States exported enough ewaste to cover a football field and rise a mile into the sky (Allen).

Boy hired to haul electronic scrap from Alaba market in Lagos, Nigeria to this nearby informal dump sitting on a swamp. Imported scrap televisions and computers that could not be repaired get deposited and burned.
2006 Basel Action Network (BAN)

A sea of television housings, cathode ray tubes, computers, monitors and other imported electronic waste not salable at the Alaba market in Lagos, Nigeria, is dumped here in a nearby swamp.
2006 Basel Action Network (BAN)

A view inside the burn houses where women sit by the fireplaces and cook imported computer parts. Guiyu, China.
2008 Basel Action Network (BAN)

The fate of E-waste

The e-waste of developed countries ends up in China, India, Africa, and Latin Americas poor communities where e-waste is dismantled in appalling conditions, using primitive methods that fail to provide any protection to the workers and environment.

This migrant labor family lives in a shelter made from bags of imported electronic waste with a tarp over it in the burning village. Burn houses are a stone's throw away. The air everywhere is thick with the smoke of burning computer parts. Guiyu, China.
2008 Basel Action Network (BAN)

Imported e-wastes that cannot be recycled pile up along side the many waterways in the Guiyu region. Guiyu, China.
2008 Basel Action Network (BAN)

Man sweeping toner out of printer cartridge. Toners are made of carbon black -- a class 2A probable carcinogen (IARC). The toner billows in his face all day long without respiratory protection of any kind. Cartridges are later dumped by the river. Guiyu, China.
2006 Basel Action Network (BAN)

a free trade in hazardous wastes leaves the poorer peoples of the world with an untenable choice between poverty and poison, a choice that nobody should have to make (Puckett).

Burning television at the dump outside of Alaba market, Lagos, Nigeria.

2006 Basel Action Network (BAN)

Women picking through wires torn out of computers. The wires are sorted by day and burned by night in this village. The families live right in the burn yards. Cancer causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and dioxins will result from burning wires made from PVC and brominated flame retardants. Guiyu, China.
2006 Basel Action Network (BAN)

Allen, Terry. "China is Our E-Waste Dumping Ground." AlterNet 05 Jan 2008 Web.7Jul, 2009. <http://www.alternet.org/story/72529/>. Basel Action Network (BAN) photo gallery 2001, 2006, & 2008 http://www.ban.org/photogallery/index.html
Puckett, Jim, Leslie Byster, Sarah Westervelt, Richard Gutierrez, Shelia Davis, Asma Hussain, and Madhumitta Dutta. "Exporting Harm: The High-Tech Trashing of Asia." Basel Action Network (BAN) 25 Feb 2009 Web.7Jul, 2009. <http://ban.org>.

van Dijk, Bert. Nov. 1, 2008. Photo.

Disclaimer from Basel Action Network (BAN) for photo use. Journalists are permitted one-time use of photos that are posted here as long as the Basel Action Network is given credit with [date] Basel Action Network (BAN).