Occupational exposure to organophosphate esters in e-waste dismantling workers: Risk assessment and influencing factors screening


Organophosphate esters (OPEs) are increasingly added in electronic products as alternative flame retardants, which may result in high occupational exposure of electronic waste recycling employees. This study investigated occupational exposure to OPEs in an e-waste recycling site in northern China, with intent to explore the impacts of occupational exposure and dismantling manipulation mode. Human urine samples from three sites with different distances from the core dismantling area, including employees from family workshops and plants with centralized management and residents from nearby areas, were collected and analyzed for OPEs’ metabolites (mOPEs). The urinary ∑mOPEs’ median concentrations (0.910 ng/mL) of all employees were significantly higher than those of residents in Ziya Town (0.526 ng/mL) and Jinghai downtown (0.600 ng/mL), suggesting the risk of occupational OPEs’ exposure associated with e-waste dismantling. However, the spatial variation was insignificant for residents with different distances from the e-waste recycling site. Besides, OPEs’ exposure levels were significantly affected by manipulation modes and the urinary ∑mOPEs’ median concentrations in the employees of family workshops (1.05 ng/mL) were significantly higher than those in plants with centralized management (0.667 ng/mL). The result suggests that mechanical dismantling and active ventilating measures can reduce the OPEs’ occupational exposure risk. Moreover, ∑mOPEs were higher in volunteers with age above 50 years old and in the underweight subgroup. Finally, different categories of mOPEs in human urine showed associations with corresponding OPEs in dust samples in the same area.

Authors: Xiaoying Li, Lei Wang, Yu Wang, Yiming Yao, Peng Zhang, Hongzhi Zhao, Hongwen Sun
; Full Source: Ecotoxicology and environmental safety 2022 Jul 15;240:113707. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2022.113707.