Toxic metal levels in Nigerian electronic waste workersindicate occupational metal toxicity associated with crudeelectronic waste management practices

Godwin O Igharo, John I Anetor, Oladele O Osibanjo, Humphrey B Osadolor, Kingsley C Dike


The poor management of electronic wastes (e-waste) in Nigeria exposes workers to toxic chemicals inwaste electrical and electronic equipment. In this study, we evaluated the toxic metal levels in Nigeriansoccupationally exposed to e-waste. Whole blood levels of Lead (Pb), Mercury (Hg), Arsenic (As), Cadmium (Cd), andChromium (Cr) were determined in Nigerian e-waste workers (n=63) and in age-matched non-exposed participants(n=41), using standard electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry and inductively coupled plasma-massspectrometry methods. The results showed statistically significant (p<0.01) elevated body burden of toxic metals ine-waste workers (Pb, 0.95 ± 0.00 μmol/L; Cr, 405.99 ± 6.34 μmol/L; Cd, 108.54 ± 1.60 nmol/L; As, 10.09 ± 0.01 μmol/L;and Hg, 25.02 ± 0.14 nmol/L) compared with non-exposed group ((Pb, 0.03 ± 0.00 μmol/L; Cr, 178.44 ± 5.99 μmol/L;Cd, 56.99 ± 1.42 nmol/L; As, 1.02 ± 0.0008 μmol/L; and Hg, 1.62 ± 0.0672 nmol/L). These data indicate that theelevated body burden of toxic metals in the e-waste exposed population is an indication of occupational metaltoxicity associated with crude e-waste management practices in Nigeria. In addition, the potential healthimplications of exposure to these toxic metals, such as chronic kidney disease, cancer; preceded by genomeinstability and depressed immune response were highlighted.

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