Big Mac Attack
It’s likely that the computer you’re using right now will one day end up in China contributing to a mounting toxic nightmare. Towns along China’s southeastern coast have become dumping grounds for obsolete computers and other electronic equipment sent from the U.S., Europe, and Japan for “recycling.” Entire communities, children included, make meager livings by picking apart the technological waste, separating out metals, glass, and plastics in unsafe and unregulated conditions, at no small cost to their health and the local environment. Rivers and soil in these communities have soaked up lead, mercury, and numerous carcinogenic toxics, and the local people are suffering from high levels of infant mortality, birth defects, tuberculosis, blood diseases, and respiratory problems. More than 40 million computers became obsolete in the U.S. in 2001, and the numbers keep rising. Up to 80 percent of the computers that U.S. consumers give to recyclers get shipped to Asia for dismantling.