Biomonitoring of Metals, Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers, Polychlorinated Biphenyls, and Persistent Pesticides in Vietnamese Female Electronic Waste Recyclers

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Electronic waste is increasing. It is frequently recycled in developing countries. This is the first study to report metals, polybrominated diphenyl-ethers (PBDEs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), 2,2-bis(4-chlorophenyl)-1,1,1-trichloroethane (p,p’-DDT), and p,p’-DDE concentrations in female e-waste workers.


Female Vietnamese recyclers and non-recyclers were studied. Metals and halogenated organics were measured in blood and urine, and compared with levels in women in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).


Recyclers had higher serum PBDE than nonrecyclers. PCB-138/158 and PCB-153 were higher in 18 to less than 38-year-old nonrecyclers. Median urinary arsenic in both cohorts was six to seven-fold higher than NHANES. Median lead in blood and urine was 40% to 60% higher in recyclers than nonrecyclers. Lead in nonrecyclers was four to six-fold higher than NHANES. Both cohorts had higher arsenic and mercury than NHANES.


Occupational exposure to PBDEs and lead occurred in recyclers. Environmental exposure to arsenic, lead, and mercury occurred in both cohorts. Occupational and environmental remediation are recommended.

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