Pictures from Guiyu, the most toxic place on earth

Guiyu, China water

Picking through piles of waste. The workers will burn the wires.

Roasting circuit boards and computer chips over medieval coal fires.

A worker swirls computer chips from circuit boards in acid to collect tiny amounts of gold. The acid mixture is called aqua regia – 5% pure nitric acid and 75% pure hydrochloric acid – and it will melt gold. This worker and others will inhale fumes all day without protection and then dump the leftover sludge into the river.

Plastic-encased metal printer and motor parts are burned in the open reduce the waste to metals.

A migrant child from Hunan province sits on top of the world’s unrecyclable computer waste.

An NPO employee takes a soil sample along the river where dumped circuit boards were treated with acid and burned in the open.

Migrant workers dismantling imported computers.

This man is sweeping toner out of printer cartridges, which is made of carbon black and a carcinogen. He doesn’t use any respiratory protection while the toner blows in his face all day. The cartridges will be dumped in the river.

Woman about to smash a cathode ray tube from a computer monitor in order to remove the copper at the end of the funnel. The glass is laden with lead and will later be dumped in irrigation canals and along the river where it will leach into groundwater. Groundwater in Guiyu is completely contaminated.

3 Responses

  1. My goodness! that’s horrid.

  2. […] should people have to choose between poverty and poison?“  I followed it up with “Pictures from Guiyu, the most toxic place on earth.”  So when Shanghai Scrap recently wrote a post about e-waste, it caught my eye.  […]

  3. […] Pictures from Guiyu, the most toxic place on earth […]

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