Review Developmental Neurotoxicants in E-Waste: An Emerging Health Concern

Department of Environmental Health, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio 45267, USA.
Environmental Health Perspectives (Impact Factor: 7.98). 10/2010; 119(4):431-8. DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1002452
Source: PubMed


Electronic waste (e-waste) has been an emerging environmental health issue in both developed and developing countries, but its current management practice may result in unintended developmental neurotoxicity in vulnerable populations. To provide updated information about the scope of the issue, presence of known and suspected neurotoxicants, toxicologic mechanisms, and current data gaps, we conducted this literature review.
We reviewed original articles and review papers in PubMed and Web of Science regarding e-waste toxicants and their potential developmental neurotoxicity. We also searched published reports of intergovernmental and governmental agencies and nongovernmental organizations on e-waste production and management practice.
We focused on the potential exposure to e-waste toxicants in vulnerable populations-that is, pregnant women and developing children-and neurodevelopmental outcomes. In addition, we summarize experimental evidence of developmental neurotoxicity and mechanisms.
In developing countries where most informal and primitive e-waste recycling occurs, environmental exposure to lead, cadmium, chromium, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, polychlorinated biphenyls, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons is prevalent at high concentrations in pregnant women and young children. Developmental neurotoxicity is a serious concern in these regions, but human studies of adverse effects and potential mechanisms are scarce. The unprecedented mixture of exposure to heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants warrants further studies and necessitates effective pollution control measures.
Pregnant women and young children living close to informal e-waste recycling sites are at risk of possible perturbations of fetus and child neurodevelopment.

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Available from: Xia Huo, Jan 29, 2014
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    • "WEEE directive have made it mandatory for manufacturers to follow the concept of 'Greener Electronics' (Chen et al., 2011; Pant, 2010). The Restriction on the use of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive prohibits the use of Pb 2+ , Cd 2+ , Hg 2+ , Cr 6+ , polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in new electronic devices (Chen et al., 2011). Incineration, landfilling and export to overseas are not allowed in recent years for WEEE management due to strict environmental legislations. "
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    ABSTRACT: Technology innovations resulted into a major move from agricultural to industrial economy in last few decades. Consequently, generation of waste electronic and electrical equipments (WEEE) has been increased at a significant rate. WEEE contain large amount of precious and heavy metals and therefore, can be considered a potential secondary resource to overcome the scarcity of metals. Also, presence of these metals may affect the ecosystem due to lack of adequate management of WEEE. Building upon our previous experimental investigations for metal extraction from spent catalyst, present study explores the concept of Green Technology for WEEE management. Efforts have been made to recover base metal from a printed circuit board using eco-friendly chelation technology and results were compared with the conventional acid leaching method. 83.8% recovery of copper metal was achieved using chelation technology whereas only 27% could be recovered using acid leaching method in absence of any oxidant at optimum reaction conditions. Various characterization studies (energy dispersive X-ray analysis, scanning electron microscopy, X-ray Diffraction, inductive coupled plasma spectrophotometry) of printed circuit board (PCB) and residues were performed for qualitative and quantitative analysis of samples. Significant metal extraction, more than 96% recovery of chelating agent, recycling of reactant in next chelation cycle and nearly zero discharge to the environment are the major advantages of the proposed green process which articulate the transcendency of chelation technology over other conventional approaches. Kinetic investigation suggests diffusion controlled process as the rate determining step for the chelate assisted recovery of copper from WEEE with activation energy of 22kJ/mol.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Waste Management
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    • "Indirect exposure routes for children, as well as highly susceptible fetuses, also involve polluted air and drinking water (Grant et al. 2013). Exposure variability among children also depends on parental involvement at processing sites, either in or away from the home, and the daily activities of the child (Chen et al. 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Electronic waste (e-waste) is produced in staggering quantities, estimated globally to be 41.8 million tonnes in 2014. Informal e-waste recycling is a source of much-needed income in many low- to middle-income countries. However, its handling and disposal in underdeveloped countries is often unsafe and leads to contaminated environments. Rudimentary and uncontrolled processing methods often result in substantial harmful chemical exposures among vulnerable populations, including women and children. E-waste hazards have not yet received the attention they deserve in research and public health agendas. Objectives: We provide an overview of the scale and health risks. We review international efforts concerned with environmental hazards, especially affecting children, as a preface to presenting next steps in addressing health issues stemming from the global e-waste problem. Discussion: The e-waste problem has been building for decades. The increasingly observed adverse health effects from e-waste sites calls for protecting human health and the environment from e-waste contamination. Even if e-waste exposure intervention and prevention efforts are implemented, legacy contamination will remain, necessitating increased awareness of e-waste as a major environmental health threat. Conclusion: Global, national, and local levels efforts must aim to create safe recycling operations that consider broad security issues for people who rely on e-waste processing for survival. Paramount to these efforts is reducing pregnant women and children's e-waste exposures to mitigate harmful health effects. With human environmental health in mind, novel dismantling methods and remediation technologies, and intervention practices are needed to protect communities.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Environmental Health Perspectives
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    • "Guiyu, China, is one of the largest e-waste destinations and recycling areas in the world. Children who live there display elevated blood levels of pollutants, including heavy metals and organic toxicants, and adverse health effects such as DNA damage and decreased pulmonary function [4] [5] [6] [7]. "
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    ABSTRACT: In utero co-exposure to endocrine disrupting compounds can perturb fetal development. However, the effect of co-exposure on pivotal regulatory genes has seldom been investigated. We explored the effects of in utero co-exposure to cadmium (Cd), bisphenol A (BPA) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) on master regulator genes. We recruited 284 healthy pregnant women, of whom 262 provided both cord blood and placenta samples, and 200 had all measurements taken. Placental Cd, cord blood BPA and total PCBs in the exposed group were higher than a reference group. KISS1 expression level in placental tissue was three-fold higher in the exposed group than in the reference, and was positively associated with all toxicants. Leptin and leptin receptor expression were also significantly higher, but were only associated with BPA. From our findings, we conclude that lower birth weight is correlated with Cd and PCBs, and may result from the increased KISS1 mRNA expression. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Reproductive Toxicology
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