Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 3813–3825 | Cite as

Human health risk assessment based on trace metals in suspended air particulates, surface dust, and floor dust from e-waste recycling workshops in Hong Kong, China

Research Article


This study investigated health risks exerted on electronic waste (e-waste) recycling workers exposed to cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), lead (Pb), nickel (Ni), mercury (Hg), and zinc (Zn) in Hong Kong. E-waste recycling workshops were classified into eight working areas: 1 = office, 2 = repair, 3 = dismantling, 4 = storage, 5 = desoldering, 6 = loading, 7 = cable shredding, and 8 = chemical waste. The aforementioned metal concentrations were analyzed in suspended air particulates, surface dust and floor dust collected from the above study areas in five workshops. Elevated Pb levels were measured in dismantling and desoldering areas (582 and 486 μg/100 cm2 in surface and 3,610 and 19,172 mg/kg in floor dust, respectively). Blood lead levels of 10 and 39.5 μg/dl were estimated using United States Environmental Protection Agency's Adult Lead Model as a result of exposure to the floor dust from these two areas. Human health risk assessments were conducted to evaluate cancer and noncancer risks resulting from exposure to floor dust through the combined pathways of ingestion, dermal contact, and inhalation. Findings indicated that workers may be exposed to cancer risks above the acceptable range at 147 in a million at the 95th percentile in the dismantling area. Workers should be informed of associated risks to safeguard their health.


Electronic waste Trace metal Dust Risk assessment Occupational safety and health Hong Kong 



The authors would like to thank the participating e-waste recycling workshops and Mr. K.K. Ma for his help with the chemical analyses. This research is supported by a grant from the Public Policy Research Grant (HKBU 2001-PPR-5) and the Marginally Funded Post-Graduate Fund (on Persistent Toxic Substances) from the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong.

Supplementary material

11356_2013_2372_MOESM1_ESM.docx (26 kb)
ESM 1 DOCX 25 kb


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Croucher Institute for Environmental Sciences and Department of BiologyHong Kong Baptist UniversityHong KongPeople’s Republic of China

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