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Electronic Waste Adds to Pollution in India

Electronic waste, composed of heated and discarded metals from computer parts, is accumulating quickly as India's computer recycling industry rapidly expands. NewsHour reports on government regulation of computer recycling and the health threat posed by improper recycling of computer parts.

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  • FRED DE SAM LAZARO, Correspondent, Twin Cities Public Television:

    From writing software, to sophisticated programming, to call centers…


    Can I have your card number, please?


    … computers have become the lifeblood of India's new economy, even defective computers. At this company, machines returned by customers are methodically diagnosed and repaired, business that would be unfeasible in higher-wage countries. Even in computers not repairable, there's plenty of value. Many components, for example, are gold-plated.


    You notice we have the copper coils, the metal pieces, the aluminum can be recycled.


    And recycling these metals has spawned a fast-growing and alarming new industry. Computer motherboards are literally cooked, which releases gold and copper, but also arsenic, mercury, lead, and other toxins.

    These pictures were taken by the environmental group Greenpeace. Spokesman Ramapati Kumar says up to 5 million people work in this clandestine backyard trade.

  • RAMAPATI KUMAR, Greenpeace India:

    The recycling is highly dangerous in India, with all the operation and the procedure is still very primitive. And they are recycling just with their bare hand; they have no protection at all.