Scientists sent by Greenpeace to Ghana have recently found extreme cases of chemical contamination at two "e-waste" facilities. Soil and water tests were conducted at two electronics scrap yards where various items such as broken computers, monitors, and televisions are shipped from the United States and Europe for processing and extraction of scrap metals. Brands of these items included Philips, Sony, Microsoft, Nokia, Dell, Canon, and Siemens. The two scrap yards were located in two cities: one in the capital city Accra and another in the city of Korforidua.
Both the soil and water chemical contaminate levels were found to be over one hundred times greater than what should be found in nature, including lead contaminates. Most of the tests also found chemicals such as phthalates that interfere with sexual reproduction and child development. Chlorinated dioxins, a known carcinogen, were found in another sample.
These recycling operations attempt to extract metals including copper and aluminum that can be sold, such as copper, which fetches a price of approximately $2 per eleven pounds. The materials are crushed and burned by workers, including children, that sometimes only use their bare hands. Exposure to toxic fumes and chemicals is rampant in the scrap yards.
"Unless companies eliminate all hazardous chemicals from their waste products, e-waste dumping will continue to contaminate the environment and workers -including young children- will be exposed," Greenpeace campaigner said. Greenpeace suggested that electronics companies be more responsible with the handling of their products even through the process of scrapping to reduce environmental impact.
Apple recently made claims of enhanced environmental awareness, after demonstrating the iPhone 3Gs new potato starch-based packaging, while Greenpeace noted the device itself was "not green", as with the first device.
Samsung and Toshiba currently sit at the top of Greenpeace's list, among leading electronics developers, while Nokia is under scrutiny for not spreading awareness of its green initiatives in several of its international operating theaters.