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Emissions and Occupational Exposure Risk of Halogenated Flame Retardants from Primitive Recycling of E‑Waste

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journal contribution
posted on 24.10.2019, 15:47 by Ting-Yu Li, Jia-Li Ge, Jie Pei, Lian-Jun Bao, Chen-Chou Wu, Eddy Y. Zeng
The production and usage of non-polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) halogenated flame retardants (HFRs) have substantially increased after the ban of several PBDEs. This has resulted in widespread environmental occurrence of non-PBDE HFRs, further amplified by emissions from primitive recycling of obsolete electronics (e-waste). The present study conducted chamber experiments to characterize 15 HFRs (∑15HFR) from thermal treatment and open burning of typical e-waste. Emission factors of ∑15HFR from thermal treatment were 2.6 × 104–3.9 × 105 ng g–1, slightly higher than those from open burning (8.8 × 103–1.0 × 105 ng g–1). Greater output over input mass ratios of ∑15HFR were obtained in thermal treatment than in open burning. Particulate and gaseous HFRs dominated the emissions in thermal treatment and open burning, respectively, largely because of the different temperatures used in the two processes. Particulate HFRs were primarily affiliated with fine particles (Dp < 1.8 μm) peaking at 0.56–1.0 or 0.32–0.56 μm in both thermal treatment and open burning. Occupational exposure to most FRs was relatively low, but several PBDEs may pose potential health risk to workers in e-waste home-workshops. Potentially accruing emissions and health risks of non-PBDE HFRs from primitive recycling of e-waste remain a great concern.