E-Wast Pollution A Threat to Human Health


In addition to its damaging effect on the environment and its illegal smuggling into developing countries, researchers have now linked e-waste to adverse effects on human health, such as inflammation and oxidative stress — precursors to cardiovascular disease, DNA damage and possibly cancer.

I’ve read The Story of Stuff, which is a book that explains how our obsessions with stuff is trashing our planet. There are many great resources in the book, but I found one in particular that opened my eyes to how much pollution there is in my backyard. The site is Scorecard, a great resource for getting an in-depth pollution report.

I live in Santa Clara County and here’s what Scorecard says:

  • 90-100 percentile for non-cancer risk score (air and water releases)
  • 80-90 percentile for air releases of recognized carcinogens
  • 70-80 percentile for air releases of recognized reproductive toxicants
  • 60-70 percentile for air releases of recognized developmental toxicants
  • 50-60 percentile for total environmental releases
  • 40-50 percentile for cancer risk score (air and water releases)

Conclusion: Santa Clara County, according to Scorecard, is one of the dirtiest counties in the US. And guess which companies are responsible? The top ten, by rank in terms of pounds of released toxins:

  1. Owens Corning Corp.
  2. Hanson Permanente Cement
  3. Strongwell Corp.
  4. Chevron Prods. Co. San Jose Terminal
  5. Headway Techs. Inc.
  6. Jennings Tech. L.L.C.
  7. Marbled Elegance Inc.
  8. Lumileds Lighting US L.L.C.
  9. Equilon San Jose Terminal
  10. IBM

Owens Corning released more than 180,000 pounds of toxins into the environment in 2002.

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