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Tracking the global distribution of persistent organic pollutants accounting for e-waste exports to developing regions

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>01/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Environmental Science and Technology
Issue number2
Volume50
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)798-805
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date15/12/15
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Elevated concentrations of various industrial-use Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), have been reported in some developing areas in subtropical and tropical regions known to be destinations of e-waste. We used a recent inventory of the global generation and exports of e-waste to develop various global scale emission scenarios for industrial-use organic contaminants (IUOCs). For representative IUOCs (RIUOCs), only hypothetical emissions via passive volatilization from e-waste were considered whereas for PCBs, historical emissions throughout the chemical life-cycle (i.e., manufacturing, use, disposal) were included. The environmental transport and fate of RIUOCs and PCBs were then simulated using the BETR Global 2.0 model. Export of e-waste is expected to increase and sustain global emissions beyond the baseline scenario, which assumes no export. A comparison between model predictions and observations for PCBs in selected recipient regions generally suggests a better agreement when exports are accounted for. This study may be the first to integrate the global transport of IUOCs in waste with their long-range transport in air and water. The results call for integrated chemical management strategies on a global scale.

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This is an open access article published under an ACS AuthorChoice License, which permits copying and redistribution of the article or any adaptations for non-commercial purposes.