The recycling of printed circuit boards in Guiyu, China, a village intensely involved in e-waste processing, may present a significant environmental and human health risk. To evaluate the extent of heavy metals (Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, Zn) contamination from printed circuit board recycling, surface dust samples were collected from recycling workshops, adjacent roads, a schoolyard, and an outdoor food market. ICP-OES analyses revealed elevated mean concentrations in workshop dust (Pb I 10 000, Cu 8360, Zn 4420, and Ni 1500 mg/kg) and in dust of adjacent roads (Pb 22 600, Cu 6170, Zn 2370, and Ni 304 mg/kg). Lead and Cu in road dust were 330 and 106, and 371 and 155 times higher, respectively, than non e-waste sites located 8 and 30 km away. Levels at the schoolyard and food market showed that public places were adversely impacted. Risk assessment predicted that Pb and Cu originating from circuit board recycling have the potential to pose serious health risks to workers and local residents of Guiyu, especially children, and warrants an urgent investigation into heavy metal related health impacts. The potential environmental and human health consequences due to uncontrolled e-waste recycling in Guiyu serves as a case study for other countries involved in similar crude recycling activities.
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