Accra, 5 August 2008 – A Greenpeace analysis of soil and sediment taken from two electronic waste (e-waste) scrap yards in Ghana has revealed severe contamination with hazardous chemicals. The report "Chemical contamination at e-waste recycling and disposal sites in Ghana", released today, exposes the extent of environmental contamination caused by recycling and disposal of e-waste in Ghana. (1)
A team from Greenpeace, including a scientist, visited two scrap
yards - one at Agbogbloshie market, in the capital city Accra, the
main centre for e-waste recycling in Ghana, and one in the city of
Korforidua. Samples were taken from open-burning sites at both
locations as well as from a shallow lagoon at the Agbogbloshie.
Some of the samples contained toxic metals including lead in
quantities as much as one hundred times above levels found in
uncontaminated soil and sediment samples. Other chemicals such as
phthalates, some which are known to interfere with sexual
reproduction, were found in most of the test samples. One sample
also contained a high level of chlorinated dioxins, known to
The nature and extent of chemical contamination found at these
sites in Ghana is similar to that previously exposed by Greenpeace
for e-waste open-burning sites in China and India. (3)
"Many of the chemicals released are highly toxic, some may
affect children's developing reproductive systems, while other can
affect brain development and the nervous system," said Dr. Kevin
Brigden of Greenpeace International. In Ghana, China and India,
workers, many of them children, may be exposed to substantial
levels of these hazardous chemicals.
Containers filled with old and often broken computers, monitors
and TVs - from brands including Philips, Canon, Dell, Microsoft,
Nokia, Siemens and Sony - arrive in Ghana from Germany, Korea,
Switzerland and the Netherlands under the false label of
"second-hand goods". The majority of the containers' contents end
up in Ghana's scrap yards to be crushed and burned by workers,
often children, sometimes using only their bare hands. This method
not only pollutes the environment but also exposes workers to
potentially toxic dust and fumes. This crude "recycling" is done in
search of metal parts, mostly aluminium and copper, which sells for
approximately 2 US Dollars per five kilos.
"Unless companies eliminate all hazardous chemicals from their
electronic products and take responsibility for the entire
lifecycle of their products, this poisonous dumping will continue,"
said Martin Hojsik, Greenpeace International toxics campaigner.
"Electronics companies must not allow their products to end up
poisoning the poor around the world."
Other contacts: Dr. Kevin Brigden, Scientist at Greenpeace Research Laboratories +44 1392 263782Martin Hojsik, Greenpeace International Toxics Campaigner, +421 905 313 395Omer Elnaiem, Greenpeace International Communications, +31 6 15093589
Notes: (1) A copy of the Greenpeace Research Laboratories Technical Note "Chemical contamination at e-waste recycling and disposal sites in Accra and Korforidua, Ghana" is available from www.greenpeace.org/ghanacontamination(2) The "Poisoning the Poor – Electronic Waste in Ghana" backgrounder, highlighting the wider issues of e-waste trade & recycling is available from www.greenpeace.org/poisoningthepoor(3) A copy of the report "Recycling of Electronic Wastes in China and India: Workplace & Environmental Contamination is available from www.greenpeace.org/toxictechreportFurther contact information for reporters to get video, photos or report details