Navigation Links
Scientists concerned about environmental impact of recycling of e-waste
Date:8/26/2010

CORVALLIS, Ore. Much of the world's electronic waste is being shipped to China for recycling and the cottage industry that has sprung up there to recover usable materials from computers, cell phones, televisions and other goods may be creating significant health and environmental hazards.

Scientists from China and the United States have identified numerous toxic elements in the emissions from an e-waste recycling workshop in southern China, which uses low-tech methods to separate reusable electronic components from the circuit boards. It is not an isolated case, the scientists point out; such methods are used all over China.

Results of their study have been published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

"The most immediate problem is the health of the workers and the people who live in the city," said Bernd R.T. Simoneit, a professor emeritus at Oregon State University and one of the authors of the study. "But this may also be contributing to global contamination. For example, previous studies have found carcinogens in wind-carried dust from Asia."

Simoneit is a widely published scientist who has been involved in numerous studies identifying chemical "signatures" for emissions, including coal smoke, biomass burning, petroleum-based fuels and even the burning of municipal refuse. By using mass spectrometers and other sophisticated instrumentation, the researchers can pinpoint the contributions of specific emissions to the atmosphere.

Their work in China was conducted in Shantou City, a town of 150,000 people located in southern China's Guangdong Province. They collected samples during four working days, when workers were removing the electronic components by heating the circuit boards over grills on stoves burning coal briquettes.

The workshop had 24 stoves along three walls, and an estimated five tons of circuit boards stacked along the fourth wall for processing. Workers would use the grills to melt the solder, and then remove reusable portions of the circuitry.

The research team included five Chinese scientists and Simoneit, who has dual appointments in OSU's College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences and the Department of Chemistry. The researchers found that through this "roasting process," numerous organic chemicals, heavy metals, flame retardants and persistent organic pollutants (or POPs) were emitted into the air via the smoke. The chemical signature created by this process of roasting or toasting circuit boards "is unmistakable."

"The next step is to see to what extent this is harming the environment and creating a health hazard for both the workers, and people living in the path of the emissions either through inhalation, or exposure to the skin," Simoneit said. "Some of these chemical compounds may be carcinogens; others may be just as harmful because they can act as 'environmental disruptors' and may affect body processes from reproduction to endocrine function."

The Chinese authors of the study are affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and include lead author Xinhui Bi, with ZhenZhen Wang, Xinming Wang, Guoying Sheng and Jiamo Fu.

Simoneit also is working with scientists in India to identify chemical signatures from the burning of wire and other materials, which is done to recycle copper and other minerals. And he is working in Saudi Arabia on a different problem helping develop "green chemistry" methods for recycling that country's massive urban waste to create methane.


'/>"/>

Contact: Bernd Simoneit
simonebe@onid.orst.edu
541-737-0788
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Jefferson scientists deliver toxic genes to effectively kill pancreatic cancer cells
2. Scientists identify novel inhibitor of human microRNA
3. Argonne scientists peer into heart of compound that may detect chemical, biological weapons
4. MU scientists go green with gold, distribute environmentally friendly nanoparticles
5. Scientists identify gene that may contribute to improved rice yield
6. Scientists discover why a mothers high-fat diet contributes to obesity in her children
7. MU scientists see how HIV matures into an infection
8. Earth scientists keep an eye on Texas
9. Thinking it through: Scientists call for policy to guide biofuels industry toward sustainability
10. Scientists identify a molecule that coordinates the movement of cells
11. Scientists Find new migratory patterns for Mediterranean and Western Atlantic bluefin tuna
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/23/2017)... ITHACA, N.Y. , June 23, 2017  IBM ... in dairy research, today announced a new collaboration using ... the chances that the global milk supply is impacted ... project, Cornell University has become the newest academic institution ... Chain, a food safety initiative that includes IBM Research, ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... May 16, 2017  Veratad Technologies, LLC ( www.veratad.com ... age and identity verification solutions, announced today they will ... 2017, May 15 thru May 17, 2017, in ... International Trade Center. Identity impacts the ... in today,s quickly evolving digital world, defining identity is ...
(Date:4/24/2017)... -- Janice Kephart , former 9/11 Commission ... LLP (IdSP) , today issues the following statement: ... 6, 2017 Executive Order: Protecting the Nation ... instilled with greater confidence, enabling the reactivation of ... are suspended by until at least July 2017). ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:7/24/2017)... ... July 24, 2017 , ... Each year, Inavero’s ... have proven their superior service quality as rated by hiring professionals and job ... leader based on service quality ratings from their placed talent. , Fewer than ...
(Date:7/20/2017)... ... July 20, 2017 , ... Dr. Asher Kimchi, Founder and Chairman ... the 2017 IAC Awards at the 22nd World Congress on Heart Disease held in ... faculty to receive the Distinguished Fellowship Awards. , Dr. Asher Kimchi, together with Co-Chairmen ...
(Date:7/20/2017)... and PLYMOUTH, Minn., July 20, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... , a personalized genetic evaluations company, today announced ... their partnership investigating a genetic mutation implicated in ... extend the partnership for a second case involving ... year, the KCNQ2 Cure Alliance and Pairnomix entered ...
(Date:7/18/2017)... , ... July 18, 2017 , ... Sourcing custom glass ... your needs and has the capabilities to properly execute your job can take many ... is a sourcing portal designed to showcase the company’s capabilities and core ...
Breaking Biology Technology: