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Environ Pollut. 2007 Sep;149(2):131-40. Epub 2007 Apr 6.

Export of toxic chemicals - a review of the case of uncontrolled electronic-waste recycling.

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  • 1Croucher Institute for Environmental Sciences, and Department of Biology, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong, PR China.


This paper reviews the concentrations of persistent organic pollutants such as flame retardants (PBDEs), dioxins/furans (PCDD/Fs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and heavy metals/metalloid concentrations of different environmental media at Guiyu, a traditional rice-growing village located in southeastern Guangdong Province (PR China), which has turned into an intensive electronic-waste (e-waste) recycling site. Incomplete combustion of e-waste in open air and dumping of processed materials are the major sources of various toxic chemicals. By comparing with existing data available in other areas and also guidelines adopted in different countries, it is obvious that the environment is highly contaminated by these toxic chemicals derived from the recycling processes. For example, the monthly concentration of the sum of 22 PBDE congeners contained in PM(2.5) (16.8ngm(-3)) of air samples at Guiyu was 100 times higher than published data. In order to safeguard the environment and human health, detailed investigations are urgently needed, especially on tracking the exposure pathways of different toxic chemicals which may affect the workers and local residents especially mothers, infants and children.

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