Tech trash pollutes the blood of Africans

tech garbage

Tech waste contains heavy metals that are harmful to human health and the environment. The levels of vanadium found in the blood of African immigrants arriving in the Canary Islands they are high enough to be toxic to health.

In the first world, technology leaves behind tons and tons of polluting waste and it is not recycled. This technology contains trace levels of cobalt, arsenic, nickel, etc. That they can become intoxicated to the people who deal with them. Why are Africans getting contaminated with our technological garbage?

Heavy metals in blood

garbage in technology africa

A recent World Bank report highlights that any first-world secondary school has more computers than all households in a single major city in Sierra Leone or Guinea Bissau can collect together.

If we analyze this, how is it possible that, if there are no computers in these African countries, they could have high concentrations of vanadium in their blood? This paradox has been studied by ten researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the Insular Hospital in a study that has been published in the journal "Environmental Pullution."

In the studies carried out in the Canary Islands, given the difficulty of carrying out the studies in the place of origin of these Africans, they have been analyzed the blood of 245 immigrants from 16 countries of the continent. The analyzes were made within two months of their arrival on the islands and most of them are men. All of the research volunteers were between the ages of 15 and 45 and in apparently good health.

Laboratory analysis detected that three specific elements (aluminum, arsenic and vanadium) were in the blood of 100 percent of the study subjects, regardless of the country they came from, and that other metals, such as chromium, mercury and lead, they could be found in more than 90% of the cases.

The researchers affirm that the element with the highest concentration found in the blood of those analyzed was aluminum. This metal is present in their bodies in concentrations between 10 and 15 times higher than in developed countries. The explanation for such concentration is that these metals are used for cooking in Africa.

Other heavy metals

Another of the metals found in higher concentration is lead. This metal was at a much higher level than what a European, American or Japanese can have. This they relate to the lack of control of lead pipes and obsolete paints.

Metals that are part of cell phones, computers, tablets, household appliances, etc. are also found in the blood of Africans. However, the concentration of these metals is similar to those found in first world people, except vanadium, which has been found in much higher doses.

The question arises as to why these concentrations of metals are similar in Africans, when the penetration of these technologies in the continent is much lower than that of North America, the EU or Japan.

Technological garbage

Africans working with technological garbage

The reason for the high concentrations of these metals in the blood of Africans is due, without any doubt, to the fact that 80% of all technological waste generated in the first world ends up in Africa.

Africans take advantage of these materials to promote the second-hand trade, often obsolete and very short-lived, other times to nurture recycling chains, etc. Continuous treatment with these materials causes them to become contaminated with these metals in the blood.

The 16 countries examined are among the poorest in the world, but the concentrations of these metals are higher among immigrants from nations with higher GDP, with more telephones per 100 inhabitants, with more Internet users and, above all, with higher import volume of second-hand electronic devices.

As you can see, our waste ends up in poorer places and ends up negatively affecting the health of other people.


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