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Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. (ehpnet).

The area in California now known as Silicon Valley was once an agricultural landscape covered in fruit orchards, but over the past several decades it has become a center for one of the world's largest industries: computer manufacturing. Unfortunately, computer manufacturing produces more than profits--it has left Santa Clara County, the center of Silicon Valley, with more Superfund sites than any other county in the United States and more than 150 polluted groundwater sites.

To counteract the environmental problems resulting from the industry--including groundwater contamination and toxic gas emissions--the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) was formed in 1982. The membership now consists of environmental and neighborhood groups, labor unions, and government officials, among others. The group works within communities and workplaces worldwide to prevent and clean up toxic hazards and to promote environmental justice and an environmentally sustainable economy. The SVTC's Web site, located at http://www.svtc.org/, provides in-depth resources to educate and encourage action on electronics-related environmental issues.

The site's Resources page links to the Toxic Hotspots page, which has 34 different site-level interactive maps of Santa Clara County detailing contaminated sites, as well as demographic maps of the county and a list of the sites by city. Also accessible from the Resources page is the archive of the group's biannual SVTC Action newsletter, which contains articles on the group's campaigns and programs, as well as pieces on such topics as the future of corporate responsibility, strategies for building clean computers, and international environmentalism.

The Programs page features an historical overview of the organization and links to pages for each of the SVTC's areas of action. The Clean Computer Campaign page provides links to SVTC's 2001 Computer Report Card, which rates 28 computer manufacturers on corporate responsibility in terms of making products less toxic to make, use, and dispose of. Also accessible from the Clean Computer Campaign page is the report Poison PCs/Toxic TVs. Published in 2001, this report discusses the toxic materials--including brominated flame retardants and heavy metals such as lead, mercury, chromium, and cadmium--contained in computers and monitors, and the hazards and costs of manufacturing and disposing of them.

The Green Design page, also available through the Clean Computer Campaign page, defines the concept of eco-labeling, shows pictures of the various labels in use, and provides guides to and comparisons of the growing number of eco-labeling programs for computers in Europe. The page also explains terms used on eco-labels, such as "CFC-Free" and "Halogen-Free," and lists various manufacturers' actions to limit or ban such chemicals.

Back at the Programs page, the International Campaign for Responsible Technology link goes to news about efforts to make vital information on electronics and the environment more readily available to the public. The Networking page describes this campaign and activities in the countries where it is being implemented, including Costa Rica, Scotland, Ireland, and Taiwan. Also on offer here, under the I-CRT Projects link, are a list of "Silicon Principles" proposed by the SVTC for the international high-tech industry to reduce its impact on the environment and links to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency programs such as the Design for the Environment Printed Circuit Board Project, which seeks to research and develop new and safer materials and technologies for use in manufacturing circuit boards.
COPYRIGHT 2002 National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Dooley, Erin E.
Publication:Environmental Health Perspectives
Date:Apr 1, 2002
Words:545
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