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Relationship between e-waste recycling and human health risk in India: a critical review

Awasthi, Abhishek Kumar, Zeng, Xianlai, Li, Jinhui
Environmental science and pollution research international 2016 v.23 no.12 pp. 11509-11532
best available technology, blood serum, breast milk, electronic wastes, exposure pathways, heavy metals, human health, humans, monitoring, pollution, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, polychlorinated biphenyls, recycling, risk, urine, waste disposal, India
Informal recycling of waste (including e-waste) is an emerging source of environmental pollution in India. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polychlorinated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and heavy metals, among other substances, are a major health concern for workers engaged in waste disposal and processing, and for residents living near these facilities, and are also a detriment to the natural environment. The main objective of this review article was to evaluate the status of these impacts. The review found that, huge quantity of e-waste/waste generated, only a small amount is treated formally; the remainder is processed through the informal sector. We also evaluated the exposure pathways, both direct and indirect, and the human body load markers (e.g., serum, blood, breast milk, urine, and hair), and assessed the evidence for the association between these markers and e-waste exposure. Our results indicated that the open dumping and informal e-waste recycling systems should be replaced by the best available technology and environmental practices, with proper monitoring and regular awareness programs for workers and residents. Further and more detailed investigation in this area is also recommended.