Residue concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in different kinds of samples including consumer products, indoor dust, sediment and fish collected from two e-waste recycling sites, and some industrial, urban and suburban areas in Vietnam were determined to provide a comprehensive assessment of the contamination levels, accumulation pattern, emission potential and human exposure through dust ingestion and fish consumption. There was a large variation of PBDE levels in plastic parts of obsolete electronic equipment (from 1730 to 97,300 ng/g), which is a common result observed in consumer plastic products reported elsewhere. PBDE levels in indoor dust samples collected from e-waste recycling sites ranged from 250 to 8740 ng/g, which were markedly higher than those in industrial areas and household offices. Emission rate of PBDEs from plastic parts of disposed electronic equipment to dust was estimated to be in a range from 3.4 × 10−7 to 1.2 × 10−5 (year−1) for total PBDEs and from 2.9 × 10−7 to 7.2 × 10−6 (year−1) for BDE-209. Some fish species collected from ponds in e-waste recycling villages contained elevated levels of PBDEs, especially BDE-209, which were markedly higher than those in fish previously reported. Overall, levels and patterns of PBDE accumulation in different kinds of samples suggest significant emission from e-waste sites and that these areas are potential sources of PBDE contamination. Intakes of PBDEs via fish consumption were generally higher than those estimated through dust ingestion. Intake of BDE-99 and BDE-209 through dust ingestion contributes a large proportion due to higher concentrations in dust and fish. Body weight normalized daily intake through dust ingestion estimated for the e-waste recycling sites (0.10–3.46 ng/day/kg body wt.) were in a high range as compared to those reported in other countries. Our results highlight the potential releases of PBDEs from informal recycling activities and the high degree of human exposure and suggest the need for continuous investigations on environmental pollution and toxic impacts of e-waste-related hazardous chemicals.
Environmental Geochemistry and Health, August 2017, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 935–954