Electronic Waste Recycling: Occupational Exposures and Work-Related Health Effects

  • J.O. Okeme
  • V. H. ArrandaleEmail author
Occupational Health (M Friesen and K Applebaum, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Occupational Health


Purpose of Review

Electronic waste (e-waste) is a global public health challenge. E-waste recycling workers may be exposed to chemical, physical, ergonomic, and psychosocial hazards. This review provides an overview of recent research on occupational exposures in e-waste recycling and work-related health effects that can impact e-waste workers.

Recent Findings

E-waste workers are exposed to a variety of chemicals including metals, particulates, persistent organic compounds, and flame retardants. Exposure varies according to job task with higher exposures observed for dismantling and burning e-waste. Exposure to job stress and physical hazards (e.g., noise) also occurs.


Many studies have measured workers’ exposure in the e-waste recycling industry; fewer have investigated health effects. Biological measures were reported more often than external exposure measures. In order to protect workers, efforts are required to better understand exposures and their health effects. Removing hazardous materials from electronic equipment and reducing e-waste production would benefit workers, communities, and the environment.


Electronic waste Waste electrical and electronic Electronic scrap Occupational exposure Occupational disease 



The authors would like to thank Heather Cunningham and Christina Kim from Research and Innovation Services at the Gerstein Science Information Centre at the University of Toronto for their assistance in designing the literature search strategy.

Compliance With Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Occupational Cancer Research Centre, Cancer Care Ontario525 University AvenueTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Dalla Lana School of Public HealthUniversity of Toronto, CanadaTorontoCanada

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