About Congo, Mobile Phones and Heavy Metal Contamination in China

27 May, 2011 at 09:31 | Posted in Body & Mind, China, Environmental issues, Food | Leave a comment
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When I read this article, I come to think about xxx number of things… How fast it can go to poison ourselves and wipe us out with the help of greed, lack of judgment and lack of respect for all living things. Then I also think of food products that are exported and manufactured in such environmental pollution as in China.

Another thing that comes up in my mind is a TV program I saw here in Sweden (the World of Science?) about minerals and that they are running out. Phosphorus for example, used as fertilizer and very important for our soils, but the program also raised a question about a lesser known mineral (which I unfortunately do not remember the name of, but I guess it is cobalt or koltan) needed in the production of computers and cell phones.

China sits on the biggest asset of this mineral, including Africa, and I guess that’s the main reason why China has begun to exploit there; the availability of essential minerals. Africa is actually a rich continent as it has vast natural resources but the population is too poor to be able to extract them, and that is precisely what future conflicts will be about; the availability of essential minerals and crude oil.

In Congo, this has already begun, armed conflicts and other horrible crimes committed against the civilian population because of these minerals. It is important to require from manufacturers of electronics that these electronics have been manufactured ethically and also to press for the recycling of mobile phones which apparently still is bad. Here at Envirofone.com for example you can get your cell phone recycled, and also get some money for the inconvenience. Perhaps you have the same possibility in your country?

Other links:

Ethical Shopping:

If you want to save money and help your world every time you shop online then please visit our new free ethical shopping service – now at beta stage at WWW.GOOSHING.CO.UK

Ethical Electronics Part 1: Environmental Concerns

Choosing a mobile phone can be hard enough based on features and price. When you consider environmental, labour and conflict issues, the decision becomes even more daunting. From the sourcing of the component raw materials to the disposal of obsolete models, something as small as a single cell phone can leave a significant negative impact on our environment and on people around the world.

BLOOD COBALT: THE CONGO AND MODERN ELECTRONICS

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly known as Zaire, is the third largest country in Africa. Its population has risen to over sixty million, a number similar to the U.K., but with an area of over ten times its size.

The Congo has reeled from a history of conflict, with the most recent clashes bringing attention to a country of massive potential wealth, coupled by the suffering of the first and second Congo wars (the second of which began in 1998 and has laid rest to over five million people).

Political and social harmony may have left the Congo, but foreign business interest has not. The Congo boasts the largest deposits of Cobalt on earth, an essential component of the manufacturing of Lithium Ion Batteries, which are widely used in our mobile phones and personal electronic devices. Coupled with this is ‘Coltan’ or Columbite-tantalite, the extracts of which are used for everything from laptops to ABS brakes.

Heavy Metal Contamination Threatens Chinese Agriculture

By Chen Yilian
Epoch Times Staff

The Ministry of Land and Resources in China recently admitted that more than 10 percent of arable land has been polluted by heavy metal toxins. Since 2009, there have been more than 30 reported cases of severe heavy metal pollution. Reports emerge of people dying from cadmium poisoning, or cases like that near the industrial center of Chenzhou, where at least 250 children have been found to suffer from elevated lead levels in their blood.

Particularly hard hit is Hunan Province, traditionally considered the home of heavy metal minerals. The level of pollution from heavy metal in Hunan is currently the highest in China. In areas with metal mineral mines, nearly all agricultural produces have ceased to grow. Soils in the Xiang River region have been heavily polluted and are no longer able to support crops. Water resources have also been polluted, and the ground water has been depleted.

Xiang River Dying

The 856 km (532 mile) Xiang River is known as the “Mother River” of Hunan. According to the China-based Economic Observer, for several years many mining companies operated in the river’s vicinity without environmental safeguards. Large amounts of untreated discharge containing heavy metal toxins were thus dumped into the river and its tributaries. This, along with waste discharge by other industries, made the heavy metal pollution in the Xiang River the highest in the country.

Niexi Village in Chenzhou is located near Chongling, the Xiang River’s main tributary. The mountain range is surrounded by mining operations, and large amounts of heavy metal toxins are directly discharged into the river. Every family in Niexi traditionally planted soybeans, but the pollution destroyed crop and now there is nearly no produce.

A few years ago, villagers planted more than 500 mu (82 acres) of orange and other trees, which grew only a couple of feet in five years and failed to produce fruit.

Soil and Water Depleted

Yizhang County is home to more than 36 kinds of minerals. As more and more mining companies set up shop, the area’s soil solidification has accelerated and water resources are quickly being depleted.

Huang Yuanxun of Jiangshui Village told The Epoch Times that all areas with mineral mines suffer the same problem, but that it’s just a matter of degree. “The well water contains heavy metals,” he said. “When the land is irrigated with the polluted water, the soil turns into solid chunks and can no longer be used for planting. When people drink the polluted water, they become sick and many of the diseases they suffer are hard to diagnose. Some even develop cancer.”

One villager named Cao said that now all the ground water has been drained and there is no water left for irrigation; in other cases, mineral excavation caused houses and fields to collapse. “This kind of mining is illegal. It was permitted only to line the pockets of government officials. For example, the Political and Legal Commission Secretary of our district owns a lot of stock in the mining company. So do his family members. That’s why he does everything he can to protect the ‘legitimacy’ of this mine,” he said.

Read more: Heavy Metal Contamination Threatens Chinese Agriculture Video | China | Epoch Times

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