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Illegal e-waste plaguing China

HONG KONG, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Millions of tons of electronic waste are exported to Chinese scrapyards despite bans on the practice and severe environmental and health concerns.

The British Environmental Agency found loopholes exist in the ban on exports of electronic waste that allow the disposal of electronic waste to extract precious metals and other items amid lax environmental controls and low labor costs, the Daily Telegraph reported Thursday.

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The BEA's John Burns said companies purchase recycled goods to ship them abroad as second-hand items for resale but actually target the goods for scrapyards.

The Telegraph relayed accounts of workers toiling for as long as 12 hours a day over flames to melt solder from circuit boards while earning a wage of about $200 a month.

Scrap materials fill streets near the scrapyards and effluent from acid baths used to remove surplus metal runs into area streams that local residents use for washing and other daily chores, the Daily Telegraph said.

China's Shantou University found at least 82 percent of children aged 1 through 6 in one area had clinical lead poisoning that can cause brain damage.

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Environmental protection agency officials in Hong Kong said they intervened in 116 cases of illegal electronic waste imports.

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