From its production to the disposal, your smartphone may be causing violence and deaths at various parts of the world.

Here is how.

Conflict minerals

3 T’s: tin, tungsten, and tantalum, and coltan are the major minerals with which components of the smartphone — or even laptops, TVs — are made. They are mined from countries like Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, where the money earned by selling these are used to fund conflict by fighting militias.

Massacres, violence against women, and the use of child soldiers are widely prevalent in conflicts in these regions.

A report in August  by Global Witness showed that less half of companies who procure minerals from these Great Lakes region countries reported on responsible sourcing practices.

Child labour in mines

Major smartphone companies, including Apple, Samsung and Sony, are not doing enough checks to ensure that minerals mined by child labourers are not used in their products, revealed an Amnesty report.

It found that children as young as seven work in perilous conditions to mine cobalt, used in lithium-ion batteries.

“Millions of people enjoy the benefits of new technologies but rarely ask how they are made,” said Mark Dummett, Business & Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International.

Poor working conditions in factories

Investigation by Associated Press last year found that Samsung Electronics, the leader in the global computer chip and smartphone industries withheld crucial information about the chemicals their workers, who eventually fell sick, were exposed in the factories. The workers had diseases such as leukemia, lupus, lymphoma and multiple sclerosis, with 66 death, most in their twenties and thirties.

Working conditions are tough in factories in China, the major manufacturer of smartphones, with incidents of employee suicides, suicide protests, and riots.

When the phone turns to e-Waste

When you throw away your phone after buying a new one, it adds to huge piles of electronic waste.

The World Counts that tracks e-waste estimates 27.47 million e-waste was thrown away this year till August.

UNEP in 2015 estimated that up to 90% of the world’s electronic waste, is illegally traded or dumped each year, with African and Asian countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, China, Pakistan, India, and Vietnam turning into dumping grounds.

“The soil of the Chinese e-waste site “Guiyu” record some of the world’s highest concentrations of dioxins and heavy metals. Water contained lead 2,400 times higher than safe levels. Many children work here.,” World Counts website says.



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