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, 115 (7), 1113-7

Elevated Blood Lead Levels of Children in Guiyu, an Electronic Waste Recycling Town in China

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Elevated Blood Lead Levels of Children in Guiyu, an Electronic Waste Recycling Town in China

Xia Huo et al. Environ Health Perspect.

Abstract

Background: Electronic waste (e-waste) recycling has remained primitive in Guiyu, China, and thus may contribute to the elevation of blood lead levels (BLLs) in children living in the local environment.

Objectives: We compared the BLLs in children living in the e-waste recycling town of Guiyu with those living in the neighboring town of Chendian.

Methods: We observed the processing of e-waste recycling in Guiyu and studied BLLs in a cluster sample of 226 children < 6 years of age who lived in Guiyu and Chendian. BLLs were determined with atomic absorption spectrophotometry. Hemoglobin (Hgb) and physical indexes (height and weight, head and chest circumferences) were also measured.

Results: BLLs in 165 children of Guiyu ranged from 4.40 to 32.67 microg/dL with a mean of 15.3 microg/dL, whereas BLLs in 61 children of Chendian were from 4.09 to 23.10 microg/dL with a mean of 9.94 microg/dL. Statistical analyses showed that children living in Guiyu had significantly higher BLLs compared with those living in Chendian (p < 0.01). Of children in Guiyu, 81.8% (135 of 165) had BLLs > 10 microg/dL, compared with 37.7% of children (23 of 61) in Chendian (p < 0.01). In addition, we observed a significant increasing trend in BLLs with increasing age in Guiyu (p < 0.01). It appeared that there was correlation between the BLLs in children and numbers of e-waste workshops. However, no significant difference in Hgb level or physical indexes was found between the two towns.

Conclusions: The primitive e-waste recycling activities may contribute to the elevated BLLs in children living in Guiyu.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Map of Guiyu and Chendian, with latitude and longitude.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Equipment dismantled with simple tools.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Circuit board baking.
Figure 4
Figure 4
Circuit boards of cell phone being dismantled.
Figure 5
Figure 5
Yellow smoke from acid bath hut.
Figure 6
Figure 6
Plastic reprocessing by gravitational separation into ceramic jugs with brine.

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