Concentrations, profiles, and estimated human exposures for polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans from electronic waste recycling facilities and a chemical industrial complex in Eastern China

Jing Ma, Kurunthachalam Kannan, Jinping Cheng, Yuichi Horii, Qian Wu, Wenhua Wang
Environmental Science & Technology 2008 November 15, 42 (22): 8252-9
Environmental pollution arising from electronic waste (e-waste) disposal and recycling has received considerable attention in recent years. Treatment, at low temperatures, of e-wastes that contain polyvinylchloride and related polymers can release polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs). Although several studies have reported trace metals and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) released from e-waste recycling operations, environmental contamination and human exposure to PCDD/Fs from e-waste recycling operations are less well understood. In this study, electronic shredder waste and dust from e-waste facilities, and leaves and surface soil collected in the vicinity of a large scale e-waste recycling facility in Taizhou, Eastern China, were analyzed for total PCDD/ Fs including 2,3,7,8-substituted congeners. We also determined PCDD/Fs in surface agricultural soils from several provinces in China for comparison with soils from e-waste facilities. Concentrations of total PCDD/Fs were high in all of the matrices analyzed and ranged from 30.9 to 11400 pg/g for shredder waste, 3460 to 9820 pg/g dry weight for leaves, 2560 to 148000 pg/g dry weight for workshop-floor dust, and 854 to 10200 pg/g dry weight for soils. We also analyzed surface soils from a chemical industrial complex (a coke-oven plant, a coal-fired power plant, and a chlor-alkali plant) in Shanghai. Concentrations of total PCDD/Fs in surface soil (44.5-531 pg/g dry wt) from the chemical industrial complex were lower than the concentrations found in soils from e-waste recycling plants, but higher than the concentrations found in agricultural soils. Agricultural soils from six cities in China contained low levels (3.44-33.8 pg/g dry wt) of total PCDD/Fs. Profiles of dioxin toxic equivalents (TEQs) of 2,3,7,8-PCDD/Fs in soils from e-waste facilities in Taizhou differed from the profiles found in agricultural soils. The estimated daily intakes of TEQs of PCDD/ Fs via soil/dust ingestion and dermal exposure (2.3 and 0.363 pg TEQ/kg bw/day for children and adults, respectively) were 2 orders of magnitude higher in people at e-waste recycling facilities than in people at the chemical industrial site (0.021 and 0.0053 pg TEQ/kg bw/day for children and adults, respectively), implying greater health risk for humans from dioxin exposures at e-waste recycling facilities. The calculated TEQ exposures for e-waste workers from dust and soil ingestion alone were 2-3 orders of magnitude greater than the exposures from soils in reference locations.

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