60 Minutes Reporter Attacked in Chinese E-Waste Pit
So what makes it so valuable?
The Chinese attackers were trying to protect a lucrative business of mining the e-waste-junked computers, televisions and other old electronic products-for valuable components, including gold. "They're afraid of being found out. This is smuggling. This is illegal," says Jim Puckett, founder of the Basel Action Network."
People make money off exporting and importing e-waste, and selling the materials that are gathered from the junked electronics. However, it comes at a far steeper price than could ever be earned in a day of trading toxins.
E-waste workers in Guiyu, China, where Pelley's team videotaped, put up with the dangerous conditions for the $8 a day the job pays. They use caustic chemicals and burn the plastic parts to get at the valuable components, often releasing toxins that they not only inhale, but release into the air, the ground and the water. Potable water must now be trucked into Guiyu and scientists have discovered that the city has the highest levels of cancer-causing dioxins in the world. Pregnancies in Guiyu are six times more likely to result in miscarriages, and seven out of 10 children there have too much lead in their blood.
The US, thanks to lax EPA standards, is a big culprit in e-waste dumping to places such as this. While reporting on the conditions created by the mass consumerism of electronics in places like this is important, so too is keeping a close watch on the regulations of e-waste disposal and ending rampant consumerism.
Want to stop places like this from popping up? You can do a whole lot to help without much effort, starting with making your electronics last as long as possible, and if you do need to buy something, search for it used. Find out more from our How to Go Green Gadgets guide.