India’s Kids Picking Apart Computers, Dying Slow Death
In India, the tech industry has opened up a niche for children that would formerly be trash pickers; recycling e-waste. The practice involves stripping computers for precious metals like lead and gold, and integrated circuits.
Exposure to the chemicals involved in such a process ensure that these children will die a slow death through cadmium and lead exposure. Safety gear is unheard of, and the young workers will dip their hands into vats of toxic chemicals repeatedly over the course of their working lives, which may be shorted to 35 or 40.
The precious metals extracted from such processes are so small as to be negligible – one computer will net only a fraction of a milligram of gold and/or platinum. However, the bosses are clearly going for quantity.
Organizations are hoping to use these appalling conditions to push for laws that protect workers in India.
UPDATE: The best thing that you can do to help the workers in East Delhi is to write to manufacturers of electronic products and ask them to keep hazardous waste out of their products as much as possible. Greenpeace has a great campaign page on this issue on which they post the latest news and ways you can take action.