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High-Tech Trash

High-Tech Trash
June is the wet season in Ghana, but here in Accra, the capital, the morning rain has ceased. As the sun heats the humid air, pillars of black smoke begin to rise above the vast Agbogbloshie Market. I follow one plume toward its source, past lettuce and plantain vendors, past stalls of used tires, and through a clanging scrap market where hunched men bash on old alternators and engine blocks. Soon the muddy track is flanked by piles of old TVs, gutted computer cases, and smashed monitors heaped ten feet (three meters) high. Beyond lies a field of fine ash speckled with glints of amber and green—the sharp broken bits of circuit boards. I can see now that the smoke issues not from one fire, but from many small blazes. Choking, I pull my shirt over my nose and approach a boy of about 15, his thin frame wreathed in smoke. People have always been proficient at making trash. Computers are hardly the only electronic hardware hounded by obsolescence. So what happens to all this junk?

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/01/high-tech-trash/carroll-text

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