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Spatial and temporal variation, source profile and formation mechanisms of PCDDs/Fs in the atmosphere of an e‐waste recycling area, South China

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The present study investigated the impact of typical electronic waste (e‐waste) dismantling activities on the distribution of polychlorinated dibenzo‐p‐dioxins (PCDDs) and dibenzofurans (PCDFs) in the adjacent atmospheric environment. The target areas included Longtang town, a well known e‐waste recycling site, and two impacted neighborhoods, all of which were within Qingyuan city, Guangdong Province, China. Air samples were collected from the three locations and analyzed following the standard methods. The results showed that the atmospheric PCDD/F level in Longtang was 159.41 pg · m−3, which was about 16–17 times higher than its neighborhoods and 2–4 orders of magnitude higher than baseline levels reported for urban cities of the world. The homologue profiles were quite different from the typical urban air patterns as De novo synthesis was likely to be the dominant formation pathway of the detected PCDDs/Fs. The seasonal variations were minor and the concentration change of PCDDs/Fs between day and night did not follow a clear pattern. Given the unique atmospheric PCDD/F concentrations, similar homologue profiles and relationship with elemental carbon (EC)/ organic carbon (OC) of the three sampling sites, the relatively high dioxin levels in its two neighborhoods were most likely due to the primitive e‐waste dismantling activities undertaken in Longtang town. A simple risk assessment also showed that the residents in Qingyuan were at high risk of exposure to PCDDs/Fs. Environ Toxicol Chem © 2013 SETAC

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