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Environmental contamination from electronic waste recycling at Guiyu, southeast China

TitleEnvironmental contamination from electronic waste recycling at Guiyu, southeast China
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsLeung A, Wei Cai Z, Hung Wong M
Journal TitleJournal of Material Cycles & Waste Management
Keywordse-waste, Heavy metals, PAHs, PBDEs, PCBs, PCDD/Fs
AbstractThe disposal, recycling, and part salvaging of discardedelectronic devices such as computers, printers, televisions,and toys are now creating a new set of wasteproblems.This study is aimed at identifying the sources andquantifying the pollution levels generated from electronicwaste (e-waste) activities at Guiyu, Guangdong Province,China, and their potential impacts on the environment andhuman health. The preliminary results indicate that totalpolycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in soil obtainedfrom a printer roller dump site was 593μg/kg dry weight(dry wt.) and in sediment from a duck pond, the PAHconcentration was 514μg/kg (dry wt.). Sediment from theLianjiang River was found to be contaminated bypolychlorinated biphenyls (743μg/kg) at a level approachingthree times the Canadian Environmental QualityGuidelines probable effect level of 277μg/kg. Total monotohepta-brominated diphenyl ether homologue concentrations(1140 and 1169μg/kg dry wt.) in soils near dumpingsites were approximately 10–60 times those reported forother polybrominated diphenyl ether-contaminated locationsin the world. In-house study on the open burning ofcable wires showed extremely high levels of polychlorinateddibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans resulting in 12419ngtoxic equivalents (TEQ)/kg of waste input and 15610ngTEQ/kg for two separate tests, respectively, which wereabout three orders of magnitude higher than those for theopen burning of household waste. High levels of Cu (712,528, and 496mg/kg), exceeding the new Dutch list actionvalue, were determined for soil near the printer rollerdumping area, sediment from Lianjiang River, and soil froma plastic burn site, respectively. A more thorough study isunderway to elucidate the extent of contamination of toxicpollutants in different ecological compartments to establishwhether these pollutants are bioaccumulated and biomagnifiedthrough food chains. Assessments of human healthimpacts from oral intake, inhalation, and dermal contact willbe subsequently investigated.
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