Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 May 21;16(10):1802. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16101802.
Electronic waste recycling presents workers and communities with a potential for exposures to dangerous chemicals, including metals. This review examines studies that report on blood, hair, and urine biomarkers of communities and workers exposed to metals from e-waste. Our results from the evaluation of 19 publications found that there are consistently elevated levels of lead found in occupationally and non-occupationally exposed populations, in both the formal and the informal e-waste recycling sectors. Various other metals were found to be elevated in different exposure groups assessed using various types of biomarkers, but with less consistency than found in lead. Antimony and cadmium generally showed higher concentrations in exposed groups compared to reference group(s). Mercury and arsenic did not show a trend among exposure groups due to the dietary and environmental considerations. Observed variations in trends amongst exposure groups within studies using multiple biomarkers highlights the need to carefully select appropriate biomarkers. Our study concludes that there is a need for more rigorous research that moves past cross-sectional study designs, involves more thoughtful and methodical selection of biomarkers, and a systematic reporting standard for exposure studies to ensure that results can be compared across studies.