Main content area

Formation of PBDD/F from PBDE in electronic waste in recycling processes and under simulated extruding conditions

Zennegg, Markus, Schluep, Mathias, Streicher-Porte, Martin, Lienemann, Peter, Haag, Regula, Gerecke, Andreas C.
Chemosphere 2014 v.116 pp. 34-39
additives, dibenzofuran, dioxins, electronic equipment, electronic wastes, flame retardants, income, persistent organic pollutants, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, recycling, risk, toxic substances, toxicity, South Africa, Switzerland
The increasing volumes of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) in Europe and developing economies demand for efficient disposal solutions. However, WEEE also contains toxic compounds and, therefore, there is a need for recycling technologies for WEEE that creates revenue without causing environmental harm. Among other fast developing economies, South Africa is tempting to make use of recycled plastic.Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) are additives used to protect plastic materials in electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) against ignition. Some BFRs are known persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and some BFRs can be transformed into highly toxic compounds such as polybrominated dibenzofurans and dioxins (PBDD/Fs).In this study, the contents of critical BFRs, i.e. polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and highly toxic PBDD/Fs were measured in WEEE material from Switzerland and South Africa. The formation of PBDD/Fs has been observed in two South African recycling processes and under controlled laboratory conditions.Total PBDE-contents in the South African and Swiss plastic waste varied between 1×103 and 7×106μgkg−1. A few WEEE plastic fractions exceeded the RoHS limit of 1×106μgkg−1 for PBDEs and thus they could not be used for recycling products without special treatment.The total content of ∑PBDFs was around 1×103μgkg−1. Such contents in materials do not pose a risk for consumer under normal conditions. Workers at recycling plants might be at risk. The measured formation rates of PBDFs were between 2×10−5 and 2×10−4∑PBDE−1min−1.