Pollution profiles and health risk assessment of VOCs emitted during e-waste dismantling processes associated with different dismantling methods

Taicheng An, Yong Huang, Guiying Li, Zhigui He, Jiangyao Chen, Chaosheng Zhang
Environment International 2014, 73: 186-94
Pollution profiles of typical volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted during dismantling of various printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs) of e-wastes using different methods were comparatively investigated in the real e-waste dismantling workshops in South China in April 2013. Similar pollution profiles and concentrations of VOCs were observed between dismantling mobile phone and hard disk PCBAs by using electric blowers and between dismantling television and power supplier PCBAs using electric heating furnaces. Aromatic hydrocarbons (accounting for >60% of the sum of VOCs) were the dominant group during using electric blowers, while aromatic (accounting for >44% of the sum of VOCs) and halogenated hydrocarbons (accounting for >48% of the sum of VOCs) were the two dominant groups which contributed equally using electric heating furnaces. However, the distribution profiles of VOCs emitted during dismantling of televisions, hard disks and micro motors using rotary incinerators varied greatly, though aromatic hydrocarbons were still the dominant group. The combustion of e-wastes led to the most severe contamination of VOCs, with total VOCs (3.3×10(4) μg m(-3)) using rotary incinerators about 190, 180, 139, and 40 times higher than those using mechanical cutting, electric soldering iron, electric blower, and electric heating furnace, respectively. Both cancer and non-cancer risks existed for workers due to exposure to on-site emitted VOCs in all workshops especially in those using rotary incinerators according to the USEPA methodology, whereas only cancer risks existed in rotary incinerator workshops according to the American Conference of Industrial Hygienists methodology.

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