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E-waste poisoning environment in Ghana: Greenpeace

by Staff Writers
Lagos (AFP) Aug 6, 2008
E-waste from European, US and Japanese manufacturers is contaminating the environment around the sites where it is dumped for recycling and disposal in Ghana, Greenpeace said in a statement received Wednesday.

Greenpeace said it visited two scrapyards -- one at Abogbloshie in the centre of Accra, the main centre for recycling computers in Ghana, and one in the city of Koforidua in the country's Eastern Region.

The scientist in the team took samples from the open-burning sites at both locations as well as from a shallow lagoon at Abogloshie.

"Some of the samples contained toxic metals including lead in quantities as much as 100 times above levels found in uncontaminated soil and sediment samples," the Amsterdam-based environmental campaigner said in a statement.

The group also noted the presence in most of the samples of other chemicals such as phthalates, which interfere with reproduction, and in one of the samples of a high level of chlorinated dioxins, known to promote cancer.

"The nature and extent of chemical contamination found at these sites in Ghana is similar to that previously exposed by Greenpeace for e-waste open-burning sites in China and India," the group said.

It pointed to the fact that many of those working on the sites were children and noted that hazardous chemicals may be more dangerous to children than to adults.

The children are employed to retrieve metal parts, mostly made of either aluminium or copper, for sale.

Greenpeace said container-loads of old and often broken computers, monitors and TVs arrive in Ghana from Germany, Korea, Switzerland and the Netherlands "under the false lable of 'second-hand goods'".

"Unless companies eliminate all hazardous chemicals from their electronic products and take responsibility for the entire lifecycle of their products, this poisonous dumping will continue," Martin Hojsik, Greenpeace International toxics campaigner was quoted as saying.

"Electronics companies must not allow their products to end up poisoning the poor around the world," he said.

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