Passing the poisonous parcel
11 a.m.: In a small room in the bylanes of Silampur
in East Delhi, Aslam is busy breaking open computers. He’s been doing
this work for years at this recycling hub and knows exactly which parts
are valuable and need to be separated. His tools are at hand; hammer,
screwdriver, pliers and blowtorch. He shares this 6 feet by 8 feet
workplace with three other teenage boys. They work 10 hours a day, for
meagre $3-5 each. Aslam’s friend Sabir is using a blowtorch to remove
the so-called ‘jewels’ (capacitors, integrated circuits, etc.) from the
circuit boards. The small, poorly ventilated room immediately fills up
with fumes, making the boys uncomfortable: but they wipe their eyes and
carry on. They know these fumes. They inhale them everyday. What they
don’t know is that they contain lead, a poison that is permanently
damaging their lungs and kidneys.
Download the electronic copy:
Our Planet, UNEP, April, 2011 Issue. (Selected pages reproduced).