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

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.


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

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