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Greenpeace Documents Chemical Contamination In Ghana

August 5, 2008
1:58 PM

CONTACT: Greenpeace
Jane Kochersperger, Media Officer, Greenpeace U.S.A., + 1 202 680 3798

Greenpeace Documents Chemical Contamination In Ghana
Research Confirms Microsoft and Dell Electronic Waste in Africa
INTERNATIONAL - August 5 - A Greenpeace science team visiting two scrap yards in the capital city Accra and the city of Korforidua, Ghana, has confirmed that soil and sediment taken from two electronic waste (e-waste) scrap yards are severely contaminated with hazardous chemicals. This information was released today in a report entitled "Chemical contamination at e-waste recycling and disposal sites in Ghana" exposing the extent of environmental contamination caused by the recycling and disposal of e-waste.

Greenpeace researchers visited two scrap yards one at Agbogbloshie market, in the capital city Accra, the main center for e-waste recycling in Ghana, and one in the city of Korforidua. Samples were taken from open-burning sites at both locations as well as from a shallow lagoon at the Agbogbloshie.

Samples contained toxic metals including lead in quantities up to one hundred times above normal levels found in uncontaminated soil and sediment samples. Other chemicals such as phthalates which are known to interfere with sexual reproduction, were found in most of the test samples. One sample also contained a high level of chlorinated dioxins which are known to contribute to cancer.

"Many of the chemicals released are highly toxic, some may affect children's developing reproductive systems, while others can affect brain development and the nervous system," said Dr. Kevin Brigden of Greenpeace International. "In Ghana, China and India, workers, many of them children, may be exposed to substantial levels of these hazardous chemicals."

Containers filled with old and often broken computers, monitors and TVs from brands including Philips, Sony, Microsoft, Nokia, Dell, Canon and Siemens arrive in Ghana from Europe and the United States under the false label of "second-hand goods" or are simply dumped. The majority of the containers' contents end up in Ghana's scrap yards to be crushed and burned by workers, often children, sometimes using only their bare hands. This method not only pollutes the environment but also exposes workers to potentially toxic dust and fumes. This crude "recycling" is done in search of metal parts, mostly aluminum and copper, which sells for approximately 2 US Dollars per eleven pounds. Although not a Tech company, Greenpeace also identified parts on site marked as property of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

"Unless companies eliminate all hazardous chemicals from their electronic products, e-waste dumping will continue to contaminate the environment and workers including young children will be exposed, said Casey Harrell, Greenpeace toxics campaigner. "Electronics companies must not allow their products to end up poisoning the poor around the world."

Jane Kochersperger, Media Officer, Greenpeace U.S.A., + 1 202 680 3798 A copy of the Greenpeace Research Laboratories Technical Note "Chemical contamination at e-waste recycling and disposal sites in Accra and Korforidua, Ghana" is available from:


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