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Editor's note: Grade Eight Language Arts teacher Heather Williams of the ISAAC school in New London gave her students an assignment to write letters to the editor about a subject they are studying - the environmental damage that can be caused by the improper disposal or recycling of electronic waste (e-waste) from computers, TVs and the like. Following are two of examples of student letters.
I feel that e-waste is a growing problem. We are sending computers and monitors over the China every day. Aren't we supposed to be helping developing countries, not sending them trash? How is that going to help them? All it is doing is polluting their water and their people.
Every day Americans throw out 130,000 computers! Where do you think it all goes, to a recycling plant? Think again. They might say they are properly disposing of it, but really they are just sending it to China and saving money by doing so.
When it gets to China they have women burn it to get the gold that is in the circuit boards. When they burn it, they are unprotected, wearing only a surgical mask. The reason they are willing to do it is to make money, but when they get sick they face huge medical bills - if there is any cure or medicine to help them.
We are poisoning China.
E-waste can harm both people and the environment.
E-waste pollutes the environment by releasing harmful toxins into the air. When electronics are burned the fumes go into the air and pollute the air. The fumes also pollute the water, creating acid rain.
The drinking water in China is contaminated with toxins because of e-waste. Children have exceedingly high levels of lead in their blood. Many don't know of the problem there of children dying of lead poisoning.
Many women are having miscarriages because of the toxins. When a mother breathes in the toxins she is killing her unborn baby. (See "60 Minutes" news report, "Following the Trail of Toxic E-Waste".)
Now, are you going to sit there and let this happen?