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

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Abstract

Objective:

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.

Methods:

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).

Results:

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.

Conclusion:

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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