Distribution of PBDEs in air particles from an electronic waste recycling site compared with Guangzhou and Hong Kong, South China.
ABSTRACT Air samples of total suspended particles (TSP, particles less than 30-60 microm), and particles with aerodynamic diameter smaller than 2.5 microm (PM(2.5)) were collected simultaneously at Guiyu (an electronic waste recycling site), three urban sites in Hong Kong and two urban sites in Guangzhou, South China from 16 August to 17 September 2004. Twenty-two PBDE congeners (BDE-3, -7, -15, -17, -28, -49, -71, -47, -66, -77, -100, -119, -99, -85, -126, -154, -153, -138, -156, -184, -183, -191) in TSP and PM(2.5) were measured. The results showed that the overall average concentrations of TSP and PM(2.5) collected at Guiyu were 124 and 62.1 microg m(-3), respectively. The monthly concentrations of the sum of 22 BDE congeners contained in TSP and PM(2.5) at Guiyu were 21.5 and 16.6 ng m(-3), with 74.5 and 84.3%, contributed by nine congeners (BDE-28, -47, -66, -100, -99, -154, -153, -183 and -191 respectively). This pattern was similar to Tsuen Wan site of Hong Kong. Two urban sites of Guangzhou had the same congener pattern, but were different from Yuen Long and Hok Tsui sites of Hong Kong. The results also showed that the amount of mono to penta brominated congeners, which are more toxic, accounted for 79.4-95.6% of Sigma(22)PBDEs from all sites. All congeners tested in Guiyu were up to 58-691 times higher than the other urban sites and more than 100 times higher than other studies reported elsewhere. The higher concentration in the air was due to heating or opening burning of electronic waste since PBDEs are formed when plastics containing brominated flame retardants are heated.
Article: Environmental and human exposure to persistent halogenated compounds derived from e-waste in China.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Various classes of persistent halogenated compounds (PHCs) can be released into the environment due to improper handling and disposal of electronic waste (e-waste), which creates severe environmental problems and poses hazards to human health as well. In this review, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs), tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA), polybrominated phenols (PBPs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs), polybrominated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PBDD/Fs), and chlorinated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (ClPAHs) are the main target contaminants for examination. As the world's largest importer and recycler of e-waste, China has been under tremendous pressure to deal with this huge e-waste situation. This review assesses the magnitude of the e-waste problems in China based on data obtained from the last several years, during which many significant investigations have been conducted. Comparative analyses of the concentrations of several classes of toxic compounds, in which e-waste recycling sites are compared with reference sites in China, have indicated that improper e-waste handling affects the environment of dismantling sites more than that of control sites. An assessment of the annual mass loadings of PBDEs, PBBs, TBBPA, PBPs, PCDD/Fs, and ClPAHs from e-waste in China has shown that PBDEs are the dominant components of PHCs in e-waste, followed by ClPAHs and PCDD/Fs. The annual loadings of PBDEs, ClPAHs, and PCDD/Fs emission were estimated to range from 76,200 to 182,000, 900 to 2,000 and 3 to 8 kg/year, respectively. However, PCDD/Fs and ClPAHs should not be neglected because they are also primarily released from e-waste recycling processes. Overall, the magnitude of human exposure to these toxics in e-waste sites in China is at the high end of the global range.Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 06/2010; 29(6):1237-47. · 2.81 Impact Factor
[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: In this paper the environmental problems related with the discarded electronic appliances, known as e-waste, are reviewed.Moreover, the current and the future production of e-waste, the potential environmental problems associated with theirdisposal and management practices are discussed whereas the existing e-waste management schemes in Greece and othercountries (Japan, Switzerland) are also quoted.Journal of Engineering Science and Technology Review. 01/2010;
Distribution of PBDEs in air particles from an electronic waste recycling site
compared with Guangzhou and Hong Kong, South China
W.J. Denga, J.S. Zhenga, X.H. Bib, J.M. Fub, M.H. Wonga,⁎
aCroucher Institute for Environmental Sciences and Department of Biology, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon, Hong Kong
bGuangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China
Received 27 March 2007; accepted 1 June 2007
Available online 12 July 2007
Air samples of total suspended particles (TSP, particles less than 30–60 μm), and particles with aerodynamic diameter smaller than 2.5 μm
(PM2.5) were collected simultaneously at Guiyu (an electronic waste recycling site), three urban sites in Hong Kong and two urban sites in
Guangzhou, South China from 16 August to 17 September 2004. Twenty-two PBDE congeners (BDE-3, -7, -15, -17, -28, -49, -71, -47, -66, -77,
-100, -119, -99, -85, -126, -154, -153, -138, -156, -184, -183, -191) in TSP and PM2.5were measured. The results showed that the overall average
concentrations of TSP and PM2.5collected at Guiyu were 124 and 62.1 μg m−3, respectively. The monthly concentrations of the sum of 22 BDE
congeners contained in TSP and PM2.5at Guiyu were 21.5 and 16.6 ng m−3, with 74.5 and 84.3%, contributed by nine congeners (BDE-28, -47,
-66, -100, -99, -154, -153, -183 and -191 respectively). This pattern was similar to Tsuen Wan site of Hong Kong. Two urban sites of Guangzhou
had the same congener pattern, but were different from Yuen Long and Hok Tsui sites of Hong Kong. The results also showed that the amount
of mono to penta brominated congeners, which are more toxic, accounted for 79.4–95.6% of Σ22PBDEs from all sites. All congeners tested in
Guiyu were up to 58–691 times higher than the other urban sites and more than 100 times higher than other studies reported elsewhere. The higher
concentration in the air was due to heating or opening burning of electronic waste since PBDEs are formed when plastics containing brominated
flame retardants are heated.
© 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs); Total suspended particles (TSP); PM2.5; Electronic waste
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are used as flame-
retardant additives in plastics (such as high-impact polystyrene)
electrical appliances, television sets, computer circuit boards and
casings (Rahman et al., 2001). The Bromine Science Environ-
mental Forum (BSEF) estimated the worldwide production of
PBDEs in 2001 was about 67,000 t (BSEF, 2003). In addition to
as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) under the Stockholm
and octabromodiphenyl ether (Octa-BDE) are chemicals under
emerging concern over environmental levels and the health
effects of exposure to PBDEs (UNEP, 2006).
PBDEs are additives mixed into polymers and are not
chemically bound to plastic or textiles and therefore may
separate or leach from the surface of their product applications
into the environment (www.bsef.com). The toxicological end-
points of concern for environmental levels of PBDEs are likely
to be thyroid hormone disruption, neurodevelopmental deficits
and cancer (McDonald, 2002). PBDEs can be easily volatilized
into atmosphere from the products in which they reside (Tanabe,
2004). The atmosphere is considered to be the key environ-
mental vector for the transport of these semi-volatile chemicals.
PBDEs are bioaccumulative and possess potential endocrine
removed fromthe aqueous environment and sorbontoparticulate
matter or to fatty tissue, aiding their distribution throughout the
Environment International 33 (2007) 1063–1069
E-mail address: email@example.com (M.H. Wong).
0160-4120/$ - see front matter © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
(Wurl and Obbard, 2005; Liu et al., 2005). Increasing PBDE
levels have been observed in human milk from Sweden and
Germany (Meironyté et al., 2001; Sjödin et al., 2003); and in
human adipose tissue samples from Spain, Israel, Finland and
Canada (McDonald, 2002). PBDEs were found to be manifested
in food webs even in remote regions such as Baltic Sea and
northern Atlantic Sea (Burreau et al., 2006). However, there are
limited data on PBDEs concentration in air, especially South
China (Julander et al., 2005; Gevao et al., 2006).
Illegal andunsafe recyclingoperations of electronic waste (e-
waste) have been conducted in Guiyu Town in Guangdong
Province, China (Texas Campaign for the Environment, 2002).
Guiyu is located in an upwind position and the prevailing wind
Delta Region of South China, which has a population of about
become a booming recycling centre for e-waste arriving from
various regions of the world since 1995. Villagers and migrant
workers use primitive and environmentally unacceptable
techniques, such as open burning to separate and recover metals
from printed circuit boards, polyvinyl chloride-coated wires and
cables. This unsafe e-waste recycling practice causes severe
environmental pollution from heavy metals, fire retardants, and
via the secondary formation of polyhalogenated dibenzo-p-
dioxins and dibenzofurans (Wang et al., 2005). The levels of
BDE-209 in rice field of Guiyu was found to be 79-3973 times
greater than the background soil value of southern Sweden. The
high PBDEs level in the soils and sediments in Guiyu should be
plastic chips, in which PBDEs are often used as fire retardants
(Leung et al., 2007; Wong et al., in press). However, there is a
lack of information on the PBDE congener profiles and
concentrations around the e-waste recycling site. It is expected
that PBDEs will be dispersed into the air, which may eventually
impose adverse human health effects.
PBDEs are not available, this work was undertaken to measure
ambient air concentrationsofPBDEs inTSP and PM2.5atGuiyu,
comparing with other urban sites in South China, and to identify
the congener patterns of PBDEs produced by e-waste recycling
activities. It is hoped that the results obtained will serve as
valuable references for future risk assessment and environmental
management measures in Guiyu and South China.
2.1. Sampling sites
2.1.1. Guiyu, the e-waste recycling site
The locations of the six sampling sites are shown in Fig. 1. Guiyu (23°327′
N, 116°342′E) is characterized by residential and commercial buildings
involved in e-waste recycling. Guiyu town is located in Chaoyang District,
Shantou City, Guangdong Province, southeast China, with a total area of 52 km2
and a population of 150,000 (Wong et al., in press). Air samples were taken on
the roof of a 3-story building located on a street where there are open burning
and other e-waste recycling operations.
2.1.2. Hong Kong urban sites
Hong Kong is located at the southern end of the China coastline and faces
the South China Sea. There are three sampling sites in Hong Kong: Yuen Long
Fig. 1. Sampling sites. Guiyu (GY, 23°327′N, 116°342′E), Li Wan (LW, 23°07.756′N 113°14.331′E), Tian He (TH, 23°08.914′N 113°21.519′E) in Guangzhou, Yuen
Long (YL, 22°26.699′N 114°01.376′E), Tsuen Wan (TW, 22°22.302′N 114°06.881′E), Hok Tsui (HT, 22°12.572′N 114°15.477′E) in Hong Kong.
1064W.J. Deng et al. / Environment International 33 (2007) 1063–1069
(YL, 22°26.699′N 114°01.376′E) site is adjacent to the border of mainland
China and has undergone rapid development within these few years; Tsuen Wan
(TW, 22°22.302′N 114°06.881′E) site is set back from heavily traveled roads in
a highly populated residential area with many stores, offices, and light industry;
and Hok Tsui (HT, 22°12.572′N 114°15.477′E) is a rural background site
located at the southeast end of Hong Kong Island, with strong wind blowing
from the sea which provides good air dispersion (Louie et al., 2005). Air
sampling was performed on top of a 6- and 5-story building, which was about
8 m away from the main traffic road in YL and TW, respectively, and on a
concrete platform located on a hillside ∼60 m above mean sea level in HT.
2.1.3. Guangzhou urban sites
sites in Guangzhou are: Li Wan (LW, 23°07.756′N 113°14.331′E) and Tian He
(TH, 23°08.914′N 113°21.519′E). LW, in the western downtown area, has a
population of 440,000 and an area of 11.8 km2. It is surrounded by residences,
pollutants. TH is located in the eastern part of the downtown area with extensive
highway connection. Most of TH area is schools, residences, office buildings, and
buildings, 25 m and 20 m, respectively, above ground level.
2.2. Sample collection
Air samples were collected from August 16 to September 17 2004 using a
high volume air sampler (Graseby Anderson) to collect PM2.5at a flow rate of
1–1.2 m3/min, and a compatible high-volume air sampler (Tianhong Intelligent
Instrument Plant, Wuhan, China) to collect TSP at the flow rates 1–1.2 m3/min.
The ambient air samples were taken from the atmosphere with inlet heights
between 1.8 and 2 m above ground. Particulate-associated contaminants were
isolated from the atmosphere by drawing air through a Whatman quartz fiber
filter (QFF, 8 in.×10 in.) for approximately 24 h. After sampling, the filters were
wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in Ziplock® bags at −20 °C. The
concentrations of TSP and PM2.5were determined by weighing the filters before
and after exposure. The filters were then cut into seven strips and archived in
cold storage (−20 °C). All treatments were carefully handled using a pair of
stainless steel scissors.
2.3. Extraction, clean-up and GC/MS analysis
The filters with a certain size particle were extracted using Soxhlet apparatus
for 16 h in 200 ml of solvent mixture (acetone:DCM:hexane, 1:2:3). The extract
was then evaporated to around 1 ml by a rotary evaporator (Büchi Rotavapor R-
124), added to pre-cleaned silica gel column (silica gel was active by heating to
450 °C for 5 h), and eluted with 20 ml of solvent mixture (hexane:DCM, 4:1).
The eluted solution was reduced to 80 μl for GC-MS determination. Analytical
procedures followed those of Zheng et al. (2004).
The sample extracts were analyzed by Agilent Technologies 6890 N
Network GC system and Agilent Technologies 5973 inert Mass Selective
Detector (GC-MS) EI with 30 m DB-1 fused silica capillary column (0.25 mm
diameter and 0.25 um film thickness; 100% dimethyl-polysiloxane), with
helium at a rate of 1 ml/min as the carriergas. The 1 μl injection of the combined
sample and C13calibration standard solutions were made in the splitless mode.
The injector temperature was 280 °C. GC oven temperature was programmed as
follows: 90 °C for 2 min, increasing 20 °C/min to 230 °C, followed by 2 °C/min
to 247 °C, then 20 °C/min to final temperature of 280 °C, which was held for
25 min. Total run time was 46.15 min. The mass spectrometer was operated in
electron impact with selected ion monitoring (EI/SIM) mode. The following
quantifying ions (M/Z) were used to monitor BDE compounds in the EI/SIM
mode: mono-Br 248–260, di-Br 328–340, tri-Br 406–418, tetra-Br 486–498,
penta-Br 564–576, hexa-Br 644–656, hepta-Br 721–733. The BDE congeners
were quantified using isotope dilution method with addition of C13labeled
BDEs. Concentrations of BDEs were measured by using a C13labeled BDE
internal standard mixture. In the case where no internal standards were added,
the BDE concentrations were measured with the “nearest neighbor” C13labeled
BDE internal standard. All BDEs were identified based on the relative retention
time of external standards and computer library of mass spectra fragmentation
patterns on the MS detector in EI/SIM mode.
The 22 BDE congeners investigated in this study were: BDE-3, -7, -15, -17,
-28, -49, -71, -47, -66, -77, -100, -119, -99, -85, -126, -154, -153, -138, -156,
-184, -183, -191 in order of retention times, with no measurement of −209 due
to instrument limitations. Absolute recoveries of PBDEs ranged between 76 and
110%. This paper mainly focused on 9 predominant congeners: BDE-28, -47,
-66,-100, -99,-154, -153,-183, and-191. QA/QCwas conducted by performing
field and laboratory blanks, standard spiked recoveries and GC/MS detection
limits. Filter blanks were less than 10% of the sample amount. The relative
standard deviation was below 10% for BDE congeners.
3. Results and discussion
3.1. 24-h average concentrations of TSP and PM2.5in Guiyu, Hong
Kong and Guangzhou
Mass concentrations of TSP and PM2.5particles were simulta-
neously collected onto quartz filters using high-volume Anderson
samplers over the summer period. Twenty-four hour average
concentrations of TSP and PM2.5collected from Guiyu and urban
sites in Hong Kong and Guangzhou are shown in Table 1.
site in Guiyu was 124 μg m−3, which was almost twice the average of
Guangzhou (133–138 μg m−3). The 24-h overall average PM2.5
concentration at Guiyu (62.1 μg m−3) was also higher than Hong Kong
sites which include a residential site YL (54.8μg m−3), an urban siteTW
(50.0 μg m−3), and a rural site HT (31.9 μg m−3). Twenty-eight out of
thirty days at Guiyu site exceeded the USEPA 24-hr PM2.5ambient air
quality standard (35 μg m−3, NAAQS, 2006) and was much higher than
the PM2.5mass concentrations in Shanghai, China during the summer
(36.8 μg m−3) (Ye et al., 2003).
The ratio of PM2.5 to TSP mass concentrations, for the same
sampling day, was calculated in order to investigate the size of aerosols
collected at Guiyu. The average ratio was 0.53 (with a standard
deviation of 0.12), implying that a greater number of fine particles exist
in the atmosphere of Guiyu (Deng et al., 2006). As shown in Fig. 2,
PBDEs distributed disproportionally between the fine and coarse
fractions (i.e., more PDDEs in the fine fraction than the bigger coarse
particles fraction). This is consistent with other investigations that
combustion processes produce more fine particles and contributed to
PM pollution (Vallius et al., 2003; McDonald, 2002). The ratio of
PM2.5to TSP mass concentrations was higher than 0.5, which indicated
the potential for the fine PM2.5with high levels of PBDEs. Being finer
in particle size and its potential transport in a regional scale, this kind of
24-h average concentrations of TSP and PM2.5of Guiyu and urban sites in Hong Kong and Guangzhou (μg m−3)
1065W.J. Deng et al. / Environment International 33 (2007) 1063–1069
PBDEs loaded particles may contribute to regional PM2.5pollution and
its negative impact to human health.
In this study, this ratio was similar to Hong Kong sites (0.55–0.62),
but lower than Guangzhou sites (0.79–0.88). Compared with other
studies, this average value was similar to that obtained at Tokchok
Island, Yellow Sea (0.59±0.19) (Lee et al., 2002), but higher than that
throughout the US (0.31±0.11) between 1972 to 2000 (Lall et al.,
2004). Based on the above comparison, the ambient air of Guiyu, as
well as the urban sites in Hong Kong and Guangzhou were more
dominated by fine particles, which seemed to be related to the
increasing number of residents at Guiyu suffering from respiratory and
cardiovascular ailments (Qiu et al., 2004). It is commonly known that
TSP is more related to respiratory diseases, while PM2.5 to
cardiovascular diseases (Wyzga, 2002).
3.2. Concentrations of PBDEs in the air of Guiyu, Hong Kong and
Concentrations of Σ22PBDEs in TSP and PM2.5from Guiyu, Hong
Kong and Guangzhou are shown in Table 2. The total concentrations of
Σ22PBDEs contained in TSP at Guiyu ranged between 13.2 and
45.4 ng m−3with a median value of 21.5 ng m−3(n=30). For PM2.5,
Σ22PBDEs ranged between 5.45 and 36.9 ng m−3with a median value
of 16.6 ng m−3(n=30).
The concentration of Σ22PBDEs in TSP from urban sites of Hong
Kong and Guangzhou, i.e., YL, TW, HT, LW and TH was 69.0, 358,
33.8, 204 and 272 pg m−3, while the concentrations in PM2.5from YL,
TW, HT, LW and TH were 45.0, 196, 24.0, 118 and 200 pg m−3,
and PM2.5from Guiyu and the other five urban sites was: GuiyuNTH,
TWNLWNYLNHT. Σ22PBDEs concentrations in TSP from Guiyu
were 311, 60, 635, 105 and 58 times of YL, TW, HT, LW and TH,
respectively. For Σ22PBDEs concentrations in PM2.5, Guiyu were 238,
85, 691, 140 and 83 times of YL, TW, HT, LWand TH, respectively.
There were significantly higher concentrations of Σ22PBDEs at
Guiyu compared to other urban sites in Hong Kong and Guangzhou.
This may be due to uncontrolled recycling activities at Guiyu, such as
the heating of printed circuit boards inside recycling workshops or
open burning of e-waste containing PBDEs (Leung et al., 2006). It
may also be due to discharge of exhaust fumes from the electronic
recycling factories situated beside our sampling building. High levels
of PBDEs (63.7 ng m-3) have also been detected in indoor air in
dismantling halls at electronic recycling stations in southern Sweden
(Sjödin et al., 2001). In addition, the higher concentrations found in
this study were also due to the high ambient temperature (32.5 °C)
during the sampling period (August-September), resulting in higher
rates of volatilization of PBDEs. High temperatures have been shown
to increase atmospheric concentrations of persistent organic pollu-
tants (POPs) due to high volatilization from contaminated surfaces
(Ter Schure et al., 2004).
The present results showed that among the three urban sites in
Hong Kong, TW had the highest concentrations of average
Σ22PBDEs (358 and 196 pg m−3in TSP and PM2.5, respectively),
due to the high traffic flows and industrial emissions. The lowest mass
concentration was found at the background site, HT, (33.8 and
24.0 pg m−3in TSP and PM2.5, respectively), as it is located upwind
of anthropogenic emission sources. TW is characterized by urban
surroundings mixed with light industrial establishments such as metal
degreasing, dry cleaning, and building material manufacturing
located within 0.5 to 1 km NW and SE of the TW site. In addition,
a hospital with large heating units and a medical incinerator are
located 0.1 to 0.2 km N and NNWof the TW site. On the contrary, HT
site is situated at the southeastern tip of Hong Kong and should be
subjected to the least amount of aerosol transport from the continent.
YL is situated northwest of Hong Kong, adjacent to the economically
fast growing city of Shenzhen in south China.
During the pasttwo decades, theexplosive increase inindustrial and
agricultural productivity and the growing population in Guangzhou
have led to a serious environmental problem. The atmospheric
environment in Guangzhou City has become seriously polluted,
mainly from vehicle exhaust (Chan et al., 2002; Bi et al., 2003). Li
Wan is a well-established commercial/industrial district, with a pop-
ulation of approximately 0.55 million. The area is influenced by a
typical mixture of emissions from vehicles, residences, commerce and
industries such as power plants, chemical plants and plastic
manufacturers. Natural gas and coal are utilized for domestic use and
powergeneration. In addition, the large-scale construction and building
activities within the whole territory are believed to significantly
contribute to air pollution (Bi et al., 2002). Tian He is a rapidly
developed commercial/residential district located in the middle of
Fig. 2. Predominant PBDEs congeners detected in TSP and PM2.5from Guiyu during August 18 to September 17 2004.
1066W.J. Deng et al. / Environment International 33 (2007) 1063–1069
several major highways. Over the past several years, vehicle emission
leading to street-level air pollution has been receiving much public
3.3. Congener distribution patterns of PBDEs in air of Guiyu, Hong
Kong and Guangzhou
Table2showsthatthere were22 PBDEcongenersintheairsamples
of TSP and PM2.5commonly found in samples from Guiyu and other
urban sites.Fig.2further showsthedistribution ofpredominant PBDEs
congeners (BDE-28, -47, -66, -99, -100, -154, -153, -183, -191)
detected in TSP and PM2.5 collected from Guiyu. In the Guiyu
atmosphere, the sum of 9 predominant congeners accounted for 74.5
and 84.3% of Σ22PBDEs in TSP and PM2.5, respectively. The same
trend was observed in TW, with 74.8 and 89.1% in TSP and PM2.5,
respectively, compared with LWand TH which had higher percentages
if PM2.5contained higher concentrations of PBDEs as they could be
wereobserved inYL andHT,withonly32.8-35.5%and 31.0–42.0% in
TSP and PM2.5, respectively. The sum of BDE-3, -7, -15, -17, -28
(mono-tri brominated congeners) accounted for more than 70% of the
In the atmosphere of Guiyu, the most abundant PBDEs were
median values of BDE-47 and BDE-99 were 6.46 and 5.52 ng m−3in
TSP, and 5.00 and 5.49 ng m−3in PM2.5, respectively. The commercial
penta mixtures generally contain 40–60% penta-BDEs (WHO, 1995).
Because of its high persistent and bioaccumulative propensity, penta-
BDE was banned in Europe as of August 2004 (BSEF, 2003). BDE-99
and BDE-47 account for approximately 75% of the total mass of penta.
As these compounds persist in the environment and bioaccumulate up
the food chain, the patterns of congeners evolve (Alaee et al., 2001).
While the ratio of BDE-99 to BDE-47 is nearly double in the
commercial penta product, the levels of BDE-99 are almost the same as
those of BDE-47, which was also observed by another study conducted
in the air of South China (Birnbaum and Cohen Hubal, 2006).
The lower brominated congeners are persistent and more toxic to
humans. Mono- to penta-brominated congeners are more carcinogenic
and mutagenic due to the smaller atomic size of bromine (Rahman et al.,
congeners contributed to the majority of Σ22PBDEs, accounting for
92.5 and 92.8% in TSP and PM2.5, respectively. The percentages of low
brominated diphenyl ethers to Σ22PBDEs in PM2.5and TSP at urban
sites of Hong Kong and Guangzhou were 79.4-95.6%.
3.4. Comparison of congener distribution patterns and concentrations
of PBDEs in TSP and PM2.5between Guiyu and other studies
Table 3 compares PBDE congeners, as well as total PBDEs
concentrations in the air with other studies. The concentrations of
Σ22PBDEs of the respirable fraction, PM2.5(16.6 ng m−3),and thetotal
fraction, TSP (21.5 ng m−3), at Guiyu were much higher than other
urban sites all over the world. Mean Σ22PBDEs concentration in air
was 16.6 ng m−3. Using an inhalation rate of 8 and 20 m3day−1for
children and adults, exposure via inhalation is estimated to be 132.8
and 332 ng day−1respectively.
detected in air inside an electronics recycling facility in Örebro, Sweden
2005). The concentration of Σ22PBDEs respirable particles from outside
the electronics recycling factories in our study were relatively higher
(16.6 ng m−3), indicating potential high exposure to the workers.
Σ22PBDEs in the total air from other urban sites in Guangzhou and
Hong Kong were in the range of 33.8–372 pg m-3, which were higher
than other urban and rural sites all over the world. The concentration of
Σ21PBDEs in air samples from a rural area in Ontario (Canada) ranged
between 6 and 85 pg m−3(Gouin et al., 2005). Concentrations of
Σ7PBDEs in air from three sampling sites around the Great Lakes
varied between 5.5 and 15 pg m−3, which were close to Chicago levels
Concentrations and congener patterns of PBDEs (pg m−3) in air particles from Guiyu, Hong Kong and Guangzhou sampled during Aug 16 to Sept 17 2004 (n=sample
BDE congenerGuiyu (n=30)Hong KongGuangzhou
1067W.J. Deng et al. / Environment International 33 (2007) 1063–1069
of 52 pg m−3(Strandberget al., 2001). Ter Schure et al. (2004) reported
mean Σ10PBDEs concentration of 8.6 pg m−3on the Gotska Sandö
island in Sweden. Urban ambient UK air was found to contain median
PBDE (6 congeners, excluding BDE-209) concentrations ranging from
1.3-6.7 pg m−3(Harrad and Hunter, 2004). Atmospheric PBDE
concentrations obtained (using a passive air sampler) over the continent
of Europe and Asia were up to 250 and 340 pg m−3, respectively, but a
lower range of up to 8 pg m−3was detected at several rural sites (Wurl
et al., 2006). The concentration of Σ8PBDE in Mace Head, Ireland
(a European background site) was 2.6 pg m−3(Lee et al., 2004).
PBDEs (reported as the sum of BDE-47 and BDE-99) were detected
in air from the Canadian Arctic and Siberia, Russia in the range of
1–7 pg m−3(Alaee et al., 2001).
This suggests that the air in Guiyu contained PBDEs 100 times
higher than other sites in the world. Higher concentrations in the air of
Guiyu were due to e-waste burning since PBDEs are released when
plastics containing brominated flame retardants are heated (welding of
mats, melting of polymers) (de Wit, 2002).
The present results indicated that levels of Σ22PBDEs
(especially penta-BDE) in TSP and PM2.5from Guiyu were
higher than those from Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and other
locations in the world. This is due to uncontrolled dismantling,
open burning, and dumping of e-waste. The presence of
relatively high concentrations of PBDEs in the atmosphere of
the e-waste recycling site suggests that atmospheric PBDEs are
now industrially ubiquitous and have the potential to adversely
affect environmental and human health.
We would like to thank Dr. Peter K.K. Louie and Mr. Roland
C.K. Wong from the Air Services Group of Hong Kong
Environmental Protection Department, Dr. K.F. Ho and Mr.
Steven Poon from the Department of Civil and Structural
Engineering of Hong Kong Polytechnic University for their
“E-waste” project at the Croucher Institute for Environmental
Sciences, Hong Kong Baptist University. Funding for this
of Research Grants Council (Code No. HKBU 1/03C), National
Natural Science Foundation of China/Research Grants Council
(Code No. NSFC/03-04/01) and a private donation.
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