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The Abandoned E-Waste Recycling Site Continued to Act As a Significant Source of Polychlorinated Biphenyls: An in Situ Assessment Using Fugacity Samplers

Wang, Yan, Luo, Chunling, Wang, Shaorui, Cheng, Zhineng, Li, Jun, Zhang, Gan
Environmental Science & Technology 2016 v.50 no.16 pp. 8623-8630
air, burning, electronic wastes, emissions, models, partition coefficients, polychlorinated biphenyls, recycling, samplers, seasonal variation, soil air, summer, temperature, winter, China
The recycling of e-waste has attracted significant attention due to emissions of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other contaminants into the environment. We measured PCB concentrations in surface soils, air equilibrated with the soil, and air at 1.5-m height using a fugacity sampler in an abandoned electronic waste (e-waste) recycling site in South China. The total concentrations of PCBs in the soils were 39.8–940 ng/g, whereas the concentrations in air equilibrated with the soil and air at 1.5 m height were 487–8280 pg/m³ and 287–7380 pg/m³, respectively. The PCB concentrations displayed seasonal variation; they were higher in winter in the soils and higher in summer in the air, indicating that the emission of PCBs from the soil was enhanced during hot seasons for the relatively high temperature or additional sources, especially for low-chlorinated PCBs. We compared two methods (traditional fugacity model and fugacity sampler) for assessing the soil–air partition coefficients (Kₛₐ) and the fugacity fractions of PCBs. The results suggested that the fugacity sampler provided more instructive and practical estimation on Kₛₐ values and trends in air–soil exchange, especially for low-chlorinated PCBs. The abandoned e-waste burning site still acted as a significant source of PCBs many years after the prohibition on open burning.