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Identification of Ah Receptor Agonists in Soil of E-waste Recycling Sites from Taizhou Area in China

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journal contribution
posted on 01.01.2008, 00:00 by Chaofeng Shen, Shengbiao Huang, Zijian Wang, Min Qiao, Xianjin Tang, Chunna Yu, Dezhi Shi, Youfeng Zhu, Jiyan Shi, Xincai Chen, Karen Setty, Yingxu Chen
In recent years, increasing concern has surrounded the consequences of improper electric and electronic waste (e-waste) disposal. In order to mitigate or remediate the potentially severe toxic effects of e-waste recycling on the environment, organisms, and humans, many contaminated sites must first be well-characterized. In this study, soil samples were taken from Taizhou city, one of the largest e-waste disposal centers in China, which was involved in recycling for nearly 30 years. The extracts of the samples were assayed for aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR)-mediated ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase (EROD) induction in the rat hepatoma cell line H4IIE. Some of the target AhR agonists, including polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), were instrumentally analyzed as well. The cause−effect relationship and dose–response relationship between the chemical concentrations of AhR agonists and observed EROD activity were examined. The results showed that soil extracts could induce AhR activity significantly, and the chemically derived 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) equivalents (TEQcal) were perfectly correlated to bioassay-derived TCDD equivalents (TEQbio; R = 0.96, P < 0.001), which indicated that the known AhR agonists could account for the observed responses. Among different contributors, PCBs accounted for 87.2–98.2% and PCDD/Fs contributed 1.7–11.6% of TEQcal, while the contribution of PAHs could almost be neglected. Under these conditions, a quantitative dose–effect relationship between TEQPCB and EROD activity could be evaluated, suggesting that the observed AhR effect was mainly caused by PCBs. Further source identification by congener profiles analysis showed that the crude dismantling of electric power devices and open burning of electric wires and printed circuit boards may be the main sources of these dioxin-like compounds. This study suggests that the combination of in vitro bioassay and chemical analysis is useful to screen, identify, and prioritize AhR agonists in soil from e-waste recycling areas.