Greenpeace released a study last week pointing to environmental pollution in Asia and Mexico from electronic products manufacturing. The group points to pollution in groundwater, rivers and wells due to the manufacturing of printed circuit boards, semiconductor chips and component assemblies.
The study, “Cutting Edge Contamination: A study of environmental pollution during the manufacture of electronic products,” claims that some of the electronics industries biggest brands and their suppliers are contaminating rivers and underground wells with a wide range of hazardous materials.
Greenpeace reports that samples taken from industrial estates in China, Mexico the Philippines and Thailand reveal the release of hazardous chemicals, including PBDEs, a group of brominated chemicals used as flame retardants, and phthalates, which are used in a wide range of processes and materials. The are most commonly used as plasticizers (softeners) in some plastics. Near semiconductor manufacturing sites, Greenpeace also found toxic chlorinated volatile organic chemicals and toxic metals, including nickel.
Greenpeace points to two problems from the manufacturing contamination: worker exposure and residential exposure when the hazardous materials find their way into aquifers.