Distribution of metals and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in sediments, soils and plants from an informal e-waste dismantling site, South China

Abstract

Brominated flame retardants (BFRs, including polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and tetrabromobisphenol-A (TBBPA)) and metals (Cu, Zn, Pb, Cd, Ni, Hg and As) in sediments, soils and herb plants from unregulated e-waste disposal sites were examined. The metal concentrations, ∑PBDE and TBBPA concentrations in all samples from the examined e-waste dismantling sites were relatively high in comparison with those of rural and urban areas around the world. The PBDE and TBBPA levels in soils significantly decreased with increasing distance from the e-waste dismantling sites, indicating that PBDEs and TBBPA had similar transport potential from the e-waste dismantling process as a point source to the surrounding region. BDE-209 and TBBPA predominated in all samples, which is consistent with the evidence that the deca-BDE and TBBPA commercial mixtures were extensively used in electronic products. Metals, PBDEs and TBBPA displayed significant positive correlations with TOC, whereas the correlations with pH were insignificant, indicating that TOC was a major factor governing the spatial distribution, transportation and fate in sediments and soils. A significant relationship between log-transformed metals and BFR concentrations indicated common pollution sources. Moreover, cluster analysis and principal component analysis further confirmed that the metals and BFRs had a common source, and penta- and deca-BDE commercial products may be two sources of PBDEs in this region.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Christal Oliver for English language editing. This work was financially supported by the National Environmental Protection Public Welfare Science and Technology Research Program of China (No. 201309047)

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Correspondence to Kuangfei Lin.

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Jinfu Wang and Bishu Pan Taizhou Municipal Center for Diseases Control and Prevention

Responsible editor: Leif Kronberg

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Wang, J., Liu, L., Wang, J. et al. Distribution of metals and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in sediments, soils and plants from an informal e-waste dismantling site, South China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 22, 1020–1033 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-014-3399-1

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Keywords

  • Metals
  • Brominated flame retardants
  • e-Waste
  • Transport
  • Soils
  • Plants