We’d like to think slavery is in the past, but this short and to-the-point documentary asks you to consider that the cellphone you’re holding in your hand may have involved something equally terrible: young Chinese workers enduring 15-hour days without holidays or rights. These workers often contract leukemia due to toxic chemical exposure. Give this a view and let Nokia and Apple know what you think.
This short documentary, titled “Who Pays the Price? The Human Cost of Electronics,” reveals the hazards of multiple industries in China, largely the electronics industry, profiling workers poisoned by chemicals (commonly benzene), and their struggle for compensation.
Most non-industrial applications have been highly limited by benzene’s carcinogenicity. Despite the fact it was used as aftershave in the 1920s, now we warn of its carcinogenicity starting at a concentration of 0.1%. It’s aromatic ring structure can cause genetic abnormalities (likely by binding between DNA bases), and is unsafe even at 1 part per million.
Many thousands of young people in China enter export factories to make the West’s favorite electronic gadgets, working endlessly without breaks, only to find they have contracted occupational diseases or worse. Despite the Chinese air pollution being 1000% the WHO’s safety limit, little is being done to correct the problem. The number, and levels, of dangerous chemicals being used in production continue to rise, and are very likely responsible for the rise in developmental problems.
These health and environmental issues seem to do little to slow the ever-growing Chinese economy, which may even be set to surpass the U.S economy within the next year, And as the environmental costs pile up worldwide, calls for actual responsibility for these industrial practices increase.
Not only does the manufacture of electronics affect the Chinese workers, but it also fuels an ongoing deadly conflict in Africa, resulting in millions of people being killed. The Fairphone is an attempt to change the way products are made.