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Environ Sci Technol. 2016 Jan 19;50(2):798-805. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b04226. Epub 2015 Dec 28.

Tracking the Global Distribution of Persistent Organic Pollutants Accounting for E-Waste Exports to Developing Regions.

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Norwegian Institute for Air Research, Box 100, NO-2027 Kjeller, Norway.
Department of Chemistry, University of Oslo , Box 1033, NO-0315 Oslo, Norway.
Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences, University of Toronto Scarborough , 1265 Military Trail, Toronto, Ontario Canada M1C 1A4.
Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University , Lancaster LA1 4YQ, U.K.


Elevated concentrations of various industrial-use Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), have been reported in some developing areas in subtropical and tropical regions known to be destinations of e-waste. We used a recent inventory of the global generation and exports of e-waste to develop various global scale emission scenarios for industrial-use organic contaminants (IUOCs). For representative IUOCs (RIUOCs), only hypothetical emissions via passive volatilization from e-waste were considered whereas for PCBs, historical emissions throughout the chemical life-cycle (i.e., manufacturing, use, disposal) were included. The environmental transport and fate of RIUOCs and PCBs were then simulated using the BETR Global 2.0 model. Export of e-waste is expected to increase and sustain global emissions beyond the baseline scenario, which assumes no export. A comparison between model predictions and observations for PCBs in selected recipient regions generally suggests a better agreement when exports are accounted for. This study may be the first to integrate the global transport of IUOCs in waste with their long-range transport in air and water. The results call for integrated chemical management strategies on a global scale.

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