Email to William Wragg (MP) 10/07/19

To: WRAGG, William <william.wragg.mp@parliament.uk>norman.lamb.mp@parliament.ukJeremy.wright.mp@parliament.uk

ICNIRP Interlude.

Dear William,

ICNIRP interlude.

in my email on digital dementia I wrote, ‘The profit driving message that ‘more is better’ has been fed into the heart of western culture as if this ‘more’ is not only the ultimate panacea, but comes at no cost beyond monetary cost.’

Cobalt

Mark Dummett, business and human rights researcher Amnesty International: “The glamourous shop displays and marketing of state of the art technologies are a stark contrast to the children carrying bags of rocks, and miners in narrow manmade tunnels risking permanent lung damage. …  Millions of people enjoy the benefits of new technologies but rarely ask how they are made. It is high time the big brands took some responsibility for the mining of the raw materials that make their lucrative products.” All mobile phone batteries contain cobalt.

From the 2016 Amnesty International article ‘This is what we Die For’

‘UNICEF estimated in 2014 that approximately 40,000 boys and girls work in all the mines across southern DRC, many of them involved in cobalt mining. The children interviewed by researchers described the physically demanding nature of the work they did. They said that they worked for up to 12 hours a day in the mines, carrying heavy loads, to earn between one and two dollars a day. Even those children who went to school worked 10 – 12 hours during the weekend and school holidays, and in the time before and after school. The children who were not attending school worked in the mines all year round. For example, Paul, aged 14, started mining at the age of 12 and worked in tunnels underground. He told researchers he would often “spend 24 hours down in the tunnels. I arrived in the morning and would leave the following morning.” 

Other children said that they worked in the open, in high temperatures, or in the rain. … The children interviewed for this report complained of being frequently ill. “There is lots of dust, it is very easy to catch colds, and we hurt all over,” Dany, a 15-year-old boy, told researchers.’

‘Chronic exposure to dust containing cobalt can result in a potentially fatal lung disease, called “hard metal lung disease.” Inhalation of cobalt particles can also cause “respiratory sensitization, asthma, shortness of breath, and decreased pulmonary function”, and sustained skin contact with cobalt can lead to dermatitis. Yet researchers found that the vast majority of miners, who spend long hours every day working with cobalt, do not have the most basic of protective equipment, such as gloves, work clothes or facemasks.’

“The accidents are common. They put a red cross on the pits where there has been an accident to show that it is dangerous. But some people still mine in those ones already declared dangerous. Last Saturday there was a mine collapse and somebody died. They only recovered his body on Tuesday. Three others were injured. Then on Tuesday there was another collapse and another miner died.

‘Most of the consumer brands identified in Huayou Cobalt’s supply chain have a global presence. … many of them are US-listed companies subject to reporting requirements under the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires them to check whether certain minerals in their products (tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold) are contributing to the funding of armed groups or fuelling human rights abuses in the DRC or surrounding countries. Yet it is clear that these companies are currently failing to operationalise the OECD’s five step due diligence process. One company explicitly admitted and others implied that this is because cobalt is not covered under US legislation’

Coltan

Arthur Firstenberg, from his lecture 5G, Birds, Bees and Humanity’: ‘‘Because of cell phones, the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet is occurring right now and for the past twenty years in the Democratic Republic of Congo. There is a rare earth mineral in your cell phone called tantalum that is extracted from an ore called coltan. The vast majority of the world’s coltan is located in Eastern Congo. A lot of that coltan is being mined by hand by child slaves in the Ituri Province of the Congo.

… Ethnic cleansing is wiping out all the villages of that province. The Mbuti pygmies who used to inhabit the Ituri rainforest that used to exist are being slaughtered, all to clear an immense area of land in order to mine more and more and more and more coltan for the billions of throwaway devices that you are holding in your hands that become obsolete and must be replaced. An estimated 2 million people in Eastern Congo, many of them children, are mining coltan by hand, under appalling conditions, to be shipped to processing plants in China and East Asia before winding up in your cell phone.

The conflict in Congo is being called a civil war by the media. It is not. It is a war for control over the world’s most prized mineral deposits. An estimated 5.4 million people died in the first decade of the war over coltan. No-one knows how many have died in the second decade.

The cause of all this havoc and destruction is the cell phone.”

Kindest regards,

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