Friday, March 12, 2010

The wild West of electronic waste

One Troy ounce (31 grams) of gold is now selling for approximately $1,150 on the open market. The equivalent weight of platinum sells for $1,450. High prices encourage more mining, but they don't begin to cover the cost to human health - and to the earth itself.
For example, thousands of children in China's Henan Province are sick from lead poisoning, because they live near a facility operated by Henan Yuguang Gold & Lead Company, one of the world's largest mining conglomerates. But high prices are also encouraging many more people to extract precious metals from existing products - at great danger to themselves and others. Indeed, the world's population throws away nearly 10 ounces of gold and five ounces of platinum for every ton of cell phones that are discarded in landfills or incinerated.
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