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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 Santa Clara, city, Cuba
Santa Clara (sän`tä klä`rä), city (1994 est. pop. 217,000), capital of Villa Clara prov., central Cuba.
 County, the center of Silicon Valley, with more Superfund sites than any other county in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.  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 SVTC Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition
SVTC Secure Video Teleconference
) 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, 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 contaminated,
v 1. made radioactive by the addition of small quantities of radioactive material.
2. made contaminated by adding infective or radiographic materials.
3. an infective surface or object.
 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 bi·an·nu·al  
1. Happening twice each year; semiannual.

2. Occurring every two years; biennial.

 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 environmentalism, movement to protect the quality and continuity of life through conservation of natural resources, prevention of pollution, and control of land use. .

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 Brominated flame retardants are produced synthetically in 70 variants with very varying chemical properties. There are several groups:
  • polybrominated diphenyl ether or PBDE (DecaBDE, OctaBDE, PentaBDE),
  • polybrominated biphenyl, or PBB
 and heavy metals heavy metals, metallic compounds, such as aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, and nickel. Exposure to these metals has been linked to immune, kidney, and neurotic disorders.
 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 Costa Rica (kŏs`tə rē`kə), officially Republic of Costa Rica, republic (2005 est. pop. 4,016,000), 19,575 sq mi (50,700 sq km), Central America. , 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 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), independent agency of the U.S. government, with headquarters in Washington, D.C. It was established in 1970 to reduce and control air and water pollution, noise pollution, and radiation and to ensure the safe handling and  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
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Author:Dooley, Erin E.
Publication:Environmental Health Perspectives
Date:Apr 1, 2002
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