Exposure to Hazardous Substances during Electronic Waste Recycling

  • Dieter F. Ihrig
  • Marco Hanke
  • Christiane Ihrig
  • Martin Tischer
Conference paper


A survey was made to get more information about the electronics waste recycling market. 550 enterprises were contacted after phone and internet investigations. 81 of 162 enterprises, who have answered, treat electronic waste with an throughput of approximately 245,000 t/y. In 16 enterprises with an throughput of approximately 103,000 t/y dust was sampled. This samples were analysed on Cd, Pb, Ni, Co, and Mn, partially at CH2O, PCB, PCDD/F, and PBDD/F. 54 workers were interviewed about their dermal exposure. Most of the results are without difficulties: 94 % of the I MAK values and 85 % of I TRK values were under the limit. But there are some problematic areas. Workers working at a shredder are polluted with high burdens of Pb, Cd and Mn. The values of formaldehyde, polychlorinated biphenyl, and chlorinated dioxin and furan have a very comfortable distance to the limit. But there are problems at brominated dioxin and furan because they exceed highly the limit adapted from chlorinated species. The Cd limit is often highly exceeded only at workplaces with possible contact to cathode ray tubes. The Cd and Pb pollution of workers who open the CRT (in special facilities or using a hammer) are partially extremely high. IMAK exceeds the limit at some workplaces too. This is already given by high concentrations of Pb. The skin strain results in reddening at 28 % and in skin lesions at 48 % of interviewed workers most on their hands. Reasons and effects for absorption of pollutants are given.


Personal Protective Equipment Work Area Occupational Exposure Limit Chlorinate Species Probabilistic Safety Assessment 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dieter F. Ihrig
    • 2
  • Marco Hanke
    • 2
    • 3
  • Christiane Ihrig
    • 4
  • Martin Tischer
    • 1
  1. 1.Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und ArbeitsmedizinDortmundGermany
  2. 2.Fachhochschule SuedwestfalenIserlohnGermany
  3. 3.Umwelttechnisches PrueflaborHannoversch MuendenGermany
  4. 4.Spurenstofftechnik GbRMenden/SauerlandGermany

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