Human dietary intake of organohalogen contaminants at e-waste recycling sites in Eastern China

Iryna Labunska*, Mohamed Abou Elwafa Abdallah, Igor Eulaers, Adrian Covaci, Fang Tao, Mengjiao Wang, David Santillo, Paul Johnston, Stuart Harrad

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)
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This study reports concentrations and human dietary intake of hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as well as selected "novel" brominated flame retardants (NBFRs) and organochlorine pesticides, in ten staple food categories. Samples were sourced from areas in Taizhou City, eastern China, where rudimentary recycling and disposal of e-waste is commonplace, as well as from nearby non-e-waste impacted control areas. In most instances, concentrations in foods from e-waste recycling areas exceeded those from control locations. Concentrations of 2-ethylhexyl-2,3,4,5-tetrabromobenzoate (EH-TBB) and bis-(2-ethylhexyl)-3,4,5,6-tetrabromophthalate (BEH-TBP) in samples from e-waste sites were 3.09-62.2. ng/g and 0.81-16.3. ng/g lipid weight (lw), respectively; exceeding consistently those in foods acquired from control sites by an order of magnitude in many cases. In contrast, while concentrations of HBCD in some foods from e-waste impacted areas exceed those from control locations; concentrations in pork, shrimp, and duck liver are higher in control samples. This highlights the potential significance of non-e-waste sources of HBCD (e.g. building insulation foam) in our study areas. While concentrations of DDT in all foods examined except pork were higher in e-waste impacted samples than controls; our exposure estimates were well below the provisional tolerable daily intake of 0.01. mg/kg. bw/day derived by the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues. Concentrations of σPCBs resulted in exposures (650 and 2340. ng/kg. bw/day for adults and children respectively) that exceed substantially the Minimal Risk Levels (MRLs) for σPCBs of 20. ng/kg. bw/day derived by the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. Moreover, when expressed in terms of dioxin-like toxicity equivalency based on the four dioxin-like PCBs monitored in this study (DL-PCBs) (PCB-105, 118, 156, and 167); concentrations in e-waste impacted foods exceed limits set by the European Union in 6 of the 8 food groups studied and result in dietary exposures for children (10.2. pg. TEQ/kg. bw/day) that exceed the WHO tolerable daily intake of 1-4. pg. TEQ/kg. bw/day.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-220
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironment International
Early online date3 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • E-Waste recycling in China
  • Hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDs)
  • Human dietary intake
  • Novel brominated flame retardants (NBFRs)
  • Organochlorine pesticides
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)


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