June 04, 2019

Electronic Waste Recycling Activities

Electronic waste recycling activities, such as dismantling of scrap, shredding and separation, thermal, or hydrometallurgical processes may release toxic substances. In practice, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and organophosphate esters are widely used in high-impact polystyrene as flame-retardant additives. Unfortunately, such additives can leak out into the environment during the lifetime or destruction of the product, because these compounds are not chemically bound to the polymer matrix. Research work by Sjödin et al. [58] demonstrated that brominated and phosphorus-containing additives to plastic materials are emitted in indoor work environments and in areas related to recycling. Eight PBDE congeners including decabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-209); decabromobiphenyl (BB-209); 1,2-bis(2,4,6-tribromophenoxy)ethane (BTBPE); tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA); and five arylated and six alkylated organophosphate esters were identified and quantified in the air samples from the dismantling of a hall and a shredder room of a Swedish electronics recycling plant. In the air of the dismantling plant, the concentration of triphenyl phosphate was one to two orders of magnitude higher; hepta- to deca-BDE, BTBPE, and TBBPA were several orders of magnitude higher than those observed in any other work environment involved with the assembly of circuit boards, offices containing computers, or computer repair facilities. Therefore, the dismantling of electronic scrap may encounter a challenge and must be considered carefully as a result of the potential threat that these chemicals pose to human health.

Numerous studies [59–64] have been carried out to evaluate the exposure of toxic substances from some informal recycling activities in developing countries, such as China, India, and Nigeria. Because of the manual processes involved in the materials recovery processes, the level of toxics such as dioxins and acids released is very high in some informal recycling activities. For example, e-waste recycling in Guiyu, China, resulted in the contamination of the entire region, pervading the water, air, soil, and biota of the region. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/waste-recycling

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