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Occupational risk assessment in e-WASTE plant: Progress achieved over years
* 1 , 1 , 2 , 2 , 2 , 1
1  Sapienza University of Rome, Department of Chemistry, Rome, Italy
2  DIT, INAIL, Via Roberto Ferruzzi 38, 00143 Rome, Italy
Academic Editor: Daniele Contini


Waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is commonly considered a secondary raw material for the recovery of valuable components. Precious metals, plastics, glass, ceramics can be recovered for production of durable goods. Nevertheless, e-wastes are characterized by the presence of chemicals harmful to the environment and to the waste disposal workers (Golnoush, 2020). Flame retardants (FR) are usually added to or otherwise incorporated into plastic compounds to provide varying degrees of flammability protection. Particular attention, in this work, was paid to classes of compounds as PBDEs and PCBs, banned from manufacture and use, but still persistent in outdated electrical equipment and new flame retardants and plasticizers (NBFRs), frequently detected in WEEE recycling facilities

Several studies showed as prolonged exposure and accumulation of these chemicals are associated with many adverse effects such as endocrine disruption, cancer, immunotoxicity, reproductive toxicity etc. (Pomata et al., 2020). The aim of the present paper was to compare concentration of several harmful substances in dust samples, collected in 2017 and in 2022 in order to monitoring the same e-waste plant, located in Central Italy, five years after the first time, focusing both on risk assessment study, than on the progress on long-term developed in this specific e-waste plant.

In particular, these collected dusts were produced during recycling operations, in a disassembly area where workers manually crush and select the different components that are subsequently sent to the recovery plants. Dust samples were analysed for PCBs, PBDEs, and NBFRs and the concentration values were used to carry out the risk Assessment, using specific equations (USEPA, 2011), by considering three different exposure routes: inhalation, ingestion, and dermal absorption of particles. For the inhalation risk assessment, airborne particulate matter concentration was used. The results obtained in this study showed how the various advances in plant management over the years, highlighted an overall improvement in the occupational risk levels despite the presence of toxic substances prohibited by law and new chemicals not yet legislated, are not negligible and reveal that continuous monitoring was the only way for a correct prevention and protection the of workers health.


Golnoush et al. (2020) Pure Appl Chem, 92, 1733–1767

Pomata et al. (2020) Int J Environ Anal Chem, 100(13), 1479-1496.

US EPA 2011 - EPA/600/R-090/052F.

Keywords: POP, WEEE, risk assessment
Comments on this paper
Anthony Lupo
Very interesting presentation. This is something few people probably know about, the danger of particulates at plants that break down larger recyclables. Thanks for submitting!