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  • Writer's pictureReuben Berger

Children working in dangerous mines to power 'smart' phones

Updated: Jul 26, 2023

I had heard a story on CBC in the spring of 2020 that was about the 'Cobalt Children' ~ children in the Congo working for a few dollars per day in dangerous mines searching for Cobalt to power our 'smart' phones, laptops, tablets, electric car batteries.

When my cell phone battery died that summer after hearing the story, I did not want to contribute to one more child or adult having to work in toxic, inhumane environments for a precious metal that a few people make a lot of money from.


Cobalt is also used for batteries in electric cars. An electric car battery has about 30 pounds of Cobalt in it. The Government of Canada moves to increase the supply of electric vehicles for Canadians.


This recent CBC interview highlights the issue of mining Cobalt: There is a scramble for cobalt, which is almost exclusively mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We talk to Siddharth Kara, author of Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers our Lives.

Here is the link for the book that is discussed in the interview....


According to recent data, the average person spends 3 hours and 15 minutes on their phone each day. And 1 in 5 smartphone users spends upwards of 4.5 hours on average on their phones every day. Perhaps surprisingly, weekdays average more smartphone use than weekends. An average teenager spends around 7 hours and 22 minutes per day on the phone, whereas recommended screen time is set at no more than two hours max.


I recall when these cell phones first came out, there was quite a bit of talk about the potential health hazards yet as time has gone on, few seem to even be concerned. I clearly recall that unpleasant heat I felt in my head when talking on it.


For more than a decade, Joel Moskowitz, a researcher in the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley and director of Berkeley’s Center for Family and Community Health, has been on a quest to prove that radiation from cellphones is unsafe. But, he said, most people don’t want to hear it.


“People are addicted to their smartphones,” said Moskowitz. “We use them for everything now, and, in many ways, we need them to function in our daily lives. I think the idea that they’re potentially harming our health is too much for some people.”


Since cellphones first came onto the market in 1983, they have gone from clunky devices with bad reception to today’s sleek, multifunction smartphones. And although cellphones are now used by nearly all American adults, considerable research suggests that long-term use poses health risks from the radiation they emit, said Moskowitz.

from article: Moskowitz: Cellphone radiation is harmful, but few want to believe it

By Anne Brice, Berkeley News


Some say that they just could not imagine living without their 'smart' phone and many seem in denial that their 'phone' is likely their biggest addiction.


It's worth contemplating that the child who may have scraped the cobalt that is in your device may have never made it out of the mine one day causing the destruction of yet another family. I am sure the Congo was a beautiful country before the rest of the world got into 'battery power' especially for our 'smartphones' which simply seem to isolate people even more.






This documentary reveals what the younger generation are experiencing as they navigate their phones often for seven or more hours every day. This is truly worth watching for all parents...





This Ted Talk by Psychiatrist Dr.

Justin Romano highlights just how serious

and widespread this addiction is.



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