Environmental impact and human exposure to PCBs in Guiyu, an electronic waste recycling site in China

Guan Hua Xing, Janet Kit Yan Chan, Anna Oi Wah LEUNG, Sheng Chun Wu, Ming Hung WONG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

186 Citations (Scopus)


PCB levels in fish (collected from local rivers), atmosphere and human milk samples have been studied to determine the exposure levels of PCBs for local residents and e-waste workers in Guiyu, a major electronic waste scrapping center in China. The source appointment and correlation analyses showed that homologue composition of PCBs in 7 species of fish were consistent and similar to commercial PCBs Aroclor 1248. PCB levels in air surrounding the open burning site were significantly higher than those in residential area. Inhalation exposure contributed 27% and 93% to the total body loadings (the sum of dietary and inhalation exposure) of the local residents, and e-waste workers engaged in open burning respectively. Total PCB concentrations in human milk ranged from N.D. to 57.6 ng/g lipid, with an average of 9.50 ng/g lipid. The present results indicated that commercial PCBs derived from e-waste recycling are major sources of PCBs accumulating in different environmental media, leading to the accumulation of high chlorinated biphenyls in human beings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-82
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironment International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Science(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Dietary exposure
  • E-waste
  • Inhalation exposure
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Risk assessment


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