We’ve heard about the food. We’ve heard about the toys. We’ve heard about....
Now we’ve heard about the recycling program:
Anna O. W. Leung and Ming H. Wong of Hong Kong Baptist University and colleagues went to the town of Guiyu in southeastern China, home to a cottage industry of family-run recycling workshops. These are typically set up inside homes, where family members melt the tin-lead solder on the boards to remove chips and other components for sale, with only small household fans for ventilation.
The researchers collected surface dust samples in and around these workshops, at local markets and schools and in other nearby residential areas.
As reported in Environmental Science and Technology, they found extremely elevated levels of lead, zinc and other metals in the workshops. Lead levels, for example, were up to 2,400 times commonly accepted optimum levels.
The contamination extended beyond the workshops into adjacent streets. Lead levels were still high, although about one-fifth the levels inside the homes. But even neighborhood schoolyards and markets were affected, suggesting that people spread contaminated dust as they walk around.
How can we continue to give the Chinese “most favored nation” status? How can we continue to buy things from them in the billions of dollars? How can we keep supporting them financially, when they ignore the health and safety of their own citizens... and ours?