Measuring exposure of e-waste dismantlers in Dhaka Bangladesh to organophosphate esters and halogenated flame retardants using silicone wristbands and T-shirts


Silicone (polydimethylsiloxane or PDMS) wristbands and cotton T-shirts were used to assess the exposure of e-waste recyclers in Dhaka, Bangladesh to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), novel brominated flame retardants (NBFRs), dechlorane plus (DPs), and organophosphate esters (OPEs). The median surface-normalized uptake rates of PBDEs, NBFRs, DPs, and OPEs were 170, 8.5, 4.8, and 270 ng/dm2/h for wristbands and 5.4, 2.0, 0.94, and 23 ng/dm2/h for T-shirts, respectively. Concentrations of Tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP), Tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCIPP), Tri-m-cresyl phosphate (TmCP), Bis(2-ethlyhexyl) tetrabromophthalate (BEH-TEBP), and Dechlorane plus (DPs) in wristbands were significantly correlated with those in T-shirts. Wristbands accumulated ~7 times more mass than T-shirts, especially of compounds expected to be mainly in the gas phase. We introduce the silicone “sandwich” method to approximate the easily releasable fraction (ERF) from T-shirts, hypothesized to be related to dermal exposure. ERFs varied from 6 to 75% of total chemical accumulated by T-shirts and were significantly negatively correlated with compounds’ octanol-air partition coefficient (log Koa). The median daily exposure doses via dermal transfer from the front of the T-shirt to the front body trunk were 0.32, 0.13, 0.11, and 9.1 ng/kg-BW/day for PBDEs, NBFRs, DPs, and OPEs, respectively. The evidence of e-waste recycler exposure to flame retardants in this low income country, lacking protective personal equipment, calls for measures to minimize their exposure and for chemical management regulations to consider exposures to chemicals in waste products.

Authors: Wang Y, Peris A, Rifat MR, Ahmed SI, Aich N, Nguyen LV, Urik J, Eljarrat E, Vrana B, Jantunen LM, Diamond ML
; Full Source: The science of the total environment.  2020 Feb 20;720:137480. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137480. [Epub ahead of print]