electronic waste (e-waste)

Blood lead and cadmium levels and relevant factors among children from an e-waste recycling town in China

Children living in a town where primitive e-waste recycling occurs may have high lead and cadmium levels in blood.


Zheng L, Wu K, Li Y, Qi Z, Han D, Zhang B, Gu C, Chen G, Liu J, Chen S, Xu X, Huo X


Environ Res. 2008 Sep;108(1):15-20.


Guiyu, China

Primitive electronic waste (e-waste) recycling is ongoing in Guiyu, and thus toxic heavy metals may keep on threatening to the health of local children. Some related factors may contribute to the elevation of blood lead levels (BLLs) or blood cadmium levels (BCLs). OBJECTIVE: To investigate the children's BLLs and BCLs in Guiyu and Chendian as compare to discuss the effects of primitive e-waste recycling activities on children's health.


Two hundred and seventy-eight children less than 8 years who lived in Guiyu and Chendian were observed, and their BLLs and BCLs were determined by graphite atomizer absorption spectrophotometer. Questionnaire survey for risk factors was also performed and data were analyzed using spearman correlation analyses and logistic regression analyses. RESULTS: Children living in Guiyu had significantly higher BLLs and BCLs as compared with those living in Chendian (p<0.01). In Guiyu, 70.8% of children (109/154) had BLLs>10 microg/dL, and 20.1% of children (31/154) had BCLs>2 microg/L, compared with 38.7% of children (48/124) had BLLs>10 microg/dL and 7.3% of children (9/124) had BCLs>2 microg/L in Chendian (p<0.01, respectively). We also observed a significant increasing trend in BLLs with increasing age in Guiyu (p<0.01). Mean height of children in Guiyu was significantly lower than that in Chendian (p<0.01). The risk factors related to children's BLLs and BCLs mainly included father's engagement in the work related to e-waste, children's residence in Guiyu and the amount of time that children played outside near the road everyday.


There are close relationships between the BLLs, BCLs in children and the primitive e-waste recycling activities in Guiyu. Environmental pollution, especially lead pollution, has threatened the health of children living around e-waste recycling site. Policy Implications: Primitive e-waste recycling is dangerous to children and not regulated.

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lead, cadmium, e-waste