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Arsenic burden in e-waste recycling workers

A cross-sectional study at the Agbogbloshie e-waste recycling site, Ghana

Authors: Jennie Yang, Jens Bertram, Thomas Schettgen, Peter Heitland, Damian Fischer, Fatima Seidu, Michael Felten, Thomas Kraus, Julius N Fobil, Andrea Kaifie

Image from “The United States has a colossal e-waste problem. This is why”, Digitaltrends.com, last modified Feb 27, 2020, accessed Aug 5, 2020, https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/e-waste-recycling-united-states/

The export of e-waste from industrialized to developing countries has led to the formation of a large-scale informal e-waste recycling sector in Accra, Ghana. During recycling processes, workers are exposed to several hazardous substances, such as heavy metals. As a common component of e-waste, inorganic arsenic can be released during e-waste recycling processes. The aim of this study was to assess the exposure to inorganic arsenic species in e-waste workers compared to a control group. N = 84 e-waste workers and n = 94 control subjects were included in this analysis. Inorganic arsenic species were determined in urine samples using HPLC-ICP-MS. E-waste workers showed higher median concentrations of As(III), As(V), MMA, DMA and the sum of inorganic arsenic in comparison to the control group. More than 80% of the e-waste workers exceeded the acceptable concentration (14 μg/L), which was significantly higher in comparison to the control group (70%). The tolerable concentration (40 μg/L) was exceeded in 17.2% of the participants, meaning a statistically relevant risk of developing cancer due to arsenic exposure throughout their (working) life. In conclusion, the exposure to inorganic arsenic is not only a problem of informal e-waste recycling, but a major public health concern that needs further investigation.

This article is a trending article in the field of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The abstract above was written by the author(s) below. This study was conducted by the author(s) below and published in the journal or book below.

Authors: Jennie Yang, Jens Bertram, Thomas Schettgen, Peter Heitland, Damian Fischer, Fatima Seidu, Michael Felten, Thomas Kraus, Julius N Fobil, Andrea Kaifie

Journal: Chemosphere

Link 1: this article @ Pubmed

Link 2: this article @ Science Direct

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