HBM4EU e-waste study: Occupational exposure of electronic waste workers to phthalates and DINCH in Europe

P Cleys, E Hardy, YA Bamai, G Poma, A Cseresznye, G Malarvannan, PTJ Scheepers, S Viegas, SP Porras, T Santonen, L Godderis, J Verdonck, K Poels, C Martins, MJ Silva, H Louro, I Martinsone, L Akülova, A van Nieuwenhuyse, M GraumansS Mahiout, RC Duca, A Covaci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Workers involved in the processing of electronic waste (e-waste) are potentially exposed to toxic chemicals, including phthalates and alternative plasticizers (APs). Dismantling and shredding of e-waste may lead to the production of dust that contains these plasticizers. The aim of this study, which was part of the European Human Biomonitoring Initiative (HBM4EU), was to assess the exposure to phthalates (e.g. di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), diethyl phthalate (DEP), di-butyl phthalate (DBP), butyl-benzyl phthalate (BBzP), di-isononyl phthalate (DiNP), di-isodecyl phthalate (DiDP) and cyclohexane-1,2-dicarboxylic di-isononyl ester (DINCH) in e-waste workers from ten European companies. This was achieved by (i) analysing urine samples from 106 e-waste workers collected at the beginning and at the end of the work week, (ii) comparing these with urine samples from 63 non-occupationally exposed controls, and (iii) analysing settled floor dust collected in e-waste premises. Significantly higher urinary concentrations of seven out of thirteen phthalates and DINCH metabolites were found in the e-waste workers compared to the control population. However, no significant differences were found between pre- and post-shift concentrations in the e-waste workers. Concentrations of DBP, DEHP and DiDP in dust were weakly to moderately positively correlated with their corresponding urinary metabolite concentrations in the e-waste workers (Spearman's ρ = 0.4, 0.3 and 0.2, respectively). Additionally, significantly lower urinary concentrations of nine phthalates and DINCH metabolites were found in e-waste workers using respiratory protective equipment (RPE) during their work activities, reflecting the potential benefits of RPE to prevent occupational exposure to phthalates and DINCH. The estimated daily intake (EDI) values obtained in this study were lower than the corresponding tolerable daily intake (TDI) adopted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for the general population, suggesting that the risk for negative health consequences in this population of e-waste workers from exposure to phthalates and DINCH is expected to be low. This was confirmed by the urinary metabolite concentrations of all workers being lower than the HBM4EU guidance values derived for the occupational exposed and general population. This study is one of the first to address the occupational exposure to phthalates and DINCH in Europe in e-waste dismantling workers, combining a human biomonitoring approach with analysis of settled indoor dust.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114286
JournalInternational Journal Of Hygiene And Environmental Health
Volume255
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Keywords

  • E-waste
  • Human biomonitoring
  • Human risk assessment
  • Indoor dust
  • Occupational exposure
  • Plasticizers

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