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Health Risks of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) and Metals at Informal Electronic Waste Recycling Sites

Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML), Leiden University, P.O. Box 9518, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
Department of Chemistry, University of Ibadan, Ibadan 200284, Nigeria
Key Laboratory of Industrial Ecology and Environmental Engineering (Ministry of Education), School of Environmental Science and Technology, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian 116024, China
Center for Safety of Substances and Products, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), P.O. Box 1, 3721 Bilthoven, The Netherlands
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(6), 906;
Received: 21 December 2018 / Revised: 7 March 2019 / Accepted: 8 March 2019 / Published: 13 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Safety and Analysis)
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Concerns about the adverse public health consequences of informal electronic waste (e-waste) recycling are increasing. This study adopted a cross-sectional study design to gain insights into health risks (cancer and non-cancer risks) associated with exposure to e-waste chemicals among informal e-waste workers via three main routes: Dermal contact, ingestion, and inhalation. The e-waste chemicals (PBDE and metals) were measured in the dust and top soils at e-waste sites (burning, dismantling, and repair sites). Adverse health risks were calculated using the EPA model developed by the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States. The concentrations of the e-waste chemicals and the health risks at the e-waste sites increased as the intensity of the e-waste recycling activities increased: control sites < repair sites < dismantling sites < burning sites. Dermal contact was the main route of exposure while exposure via inhalation was negligible for both carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic risks. Cumulative health risks via all routes of exposure (inhalation, ingestion, and dermal contact) exceeded the acceptable limits of both non-cancer effects and cancer risk at all e-waste sites. This indicates that overall the e-waste workers are at the risk of adverse health effects. Therefore, the importance of occupational safety programs and management regulations for e-waste workers cannot be over emphasised. View Full-Text
Keywords: electronic waste; informal recycling; PBDEs; metals; soil; dust electronic waste; informal recycling; PBDEs; metals; soil; dust

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Ohajinwa, C.M.; van Bodegom, P.M.; Osibanjo, O.; Xie, Q.; Chen, J.; Vijver, M.G.; Peijnenburg, W.J.G.M. Health Risks of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) and Metals at Informal Electronic Waste Recycling Sites. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 906.

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