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Monday, October 17, 2005

Toxic computers burden India's poor IQ

While businesses see Bangalore as a technology hub, environmentalists claim India is the world's dumping ground for old computers. And this is threatening the health of some of the country's most vulnerable people.

Most of our discarded computers will end up in a huge pile. But India's pile of past-it PCs is larger than most.

This year the country will import more than 4.5 million new computers, plus many second-hand ones with shorter lifespans. It is known as electronic or e-waste.

In the cities, India's poor scrape a living by breaking down PCs and monitors. They boil, crush or burn parts in order to extract valuable materials like gold or platinum.

But what they do not realise is that the toxic chemicals inside like cadmium and lead can pose serious health risks.

Half of children in a city like Bangalore already have blood lead levels at about 10 micrograms per decilitre, which has resulted in a reduction in their intelligence quotient. We are seeing more and more cases now because more and more electronic waste is being handled by our people.

Nothing like a little neurologic dysfunction to make your life awkward.


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