Tracking the global distribution of Persistent Organic Pollutants accounting for e-waste exports to developing regions
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionBreivik, K., Armitage, J.M., Wania, F., Sweetman, A., Jones, K.C. (2016) Tracking the global distribution of Persistent Organic Pollutants accounting for e-waste exports to developing regions. Environ. Sci. Technol., 50, 798-805. doi:10.1021/acs.est.5b04226. 10.1021/acs.est.5b04226
Elevated concentrations of various industrial-use persistent organic pollutants (POPs), such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), have been reported in some developing areas in sub-tropical 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.