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Human health effects of 'e-waste' focus of international research study
Date:11/18/2010

CINCINNATIA new international population study, led by the University of Cincinnati, will be the first to examine the human developmental effects of environmental exposure to the complex metal mixture found in electronic waste (e-waste).

UC epidemiologist Aimin Chen, MD, PhD, says research on the effects of complex metal and organic pollutant mixtures in e-waste is urgently needed in order to avoid unnecessary health risks to vulnerable populations from exposure to toxic air, soil and water.

Chen and his team recently received a competitive $1.7 million National Institutes of Health grant to conduct a population-based study aimed at determining how exposure to this complex e-waste toxicant mixture impacts human health.

E-waste includes a mixture of many chemicals that cause known adverse health effects alone: lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). Inappropriate handing of e-waste, such as burning, may produce polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), dioxins and furans. It is estimated that 20 to 50 million tons of this potentially toxic trashcomputers, cell phones, televisions, keyboards, printers and other electronic devicesare produced worldwide annually, much of it ending up in landfills or being improperly recycled.

UC researchers believe pregnant womenand more specifically their growing fetuses and young childrenliving in developing countries where primitive and informal e-waste recycling occurs are at increased risk for neurotoxicity.

"Because the brain is in a state of rapid development, the blood-brain barrier in infants and young children is not as effective as in adults, and neurotoxic substanceslike heavy metalscan cause developmental damage," explains Chen.

For this new research study, UC has partnered with Shantou University in China to recruit about 600 pregnant women living in recycling and non-recycling communities in China to track neurological de
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Contact: Amanda Harper
amanda.harper@uc.edu
513-558-4657
University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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