Lin Xiling still dismantles and processes electronic waste to make a living, but he no longer works from home. His business continues, but at a newly erected industrial park on the outskirts of the town of Guiyu.
But the middle-aged man and his fellow townspeople still suffer from the effects of environmental deterioration caused by the trade of dismantling and recycling electrical goods.
The environmental group Greenpeace recently released a report stating that the concentration of lead in dust samples collected from some workshops in the town is hundreds of times higher than the levels found in household dust.
"The e-waste recycling workshops of the past are to blame for the pollution problems," noted Li Xisong, an official with the news office of the Chaoyang District government.
Official statistics indicate that over 5,500 households, or over 50,000 people, in the town depend on the e-waste business for a living and over 75 percent of the town's 300-odd private enterprises are in the business of reclaiming, dismantling or processing e-wastes.
Lin was born of a waste collecting family in Guiyu, Shantou's Chaoyang District, over 400 kilometers away from Guangzhou.
Like many of the locals, Lin's family used to run a workshop for dismantling e-waste at their own house.
"The local government urged us to relocate our workshops to a newly built industrial park and many of my fellow townsfolk have done just that," Lin told China Daily over the phone yesterday.
"The government has been hammering out policies to regulate the development of the e-waste dismantling business," he added.
Since the industrial park was set up last year to accommodate the local e-waste industry, many families have chosen to move to the park. But there are still some private workshops operating in the town.
The local government has taken measures to restrict the number of private e-waste workshops, but how effective they are remains to be seen.
"Dismantling and processing e-wastes is easy money," Lin said. "That is why the majority of local people are involved in this business in some way."
"Careless treatment of this waste over the previous 15 years has made the quality of air and water much poorer than in other towns nearby," Lin admitted.
Both Lin and Li believe that moving the recycling business out of the town could be an effective way to curb the environmental hazards.
(China Daily August 24, 2005)