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Association between lung function in school children and exposure to three transition metals from an e-waste recycling area


The informal processing of electronic waste or e-waste contributes to the release of high concentrations of transition metals into the ambient air. The damage caused by chromium, nickel and manganese exposure on lung function in school children from an e-waste recycling area and the role of oxidative stress in this process were evaluated. We recruited school children (n=144, 8–13 years) from an e-waste recycling area in China compared with the control. Spirometry was performed to assess lung function status. The blood levels of chromium, nickel and manganese, antioxidant enzyme activities and lipid peroxidation of the subjects were examined. The concentrations of blood manganese (bMn) and serum nickel (sNi) in the exposed group were significantly higher than those in controls for all three age groups. The forced vital capacity value of boys aged 8–9 years was significantly lower than that of the control. Malondialdehyde levels and superoxide dismutase activities increased significantly in children aged 8–9 years from e-waste environment, but catalase activities declined. School children from an e-waste recycling area were exposed to high levels of the three transition metals. The accumulation of bMn and sNi may be risk factors for oxidative damage and decreased pulmonary function.

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Okunola Adenrele Alabi and Stanley Lin are acknowledged for critical discussion and manuscript editing. This work was supported by the Scientific Research Foundation for the Returned Overseas Chinese Scholars, State Education Ministry and 211 project of Guangdong Province.

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This study was conducted with the approval of the Shantou University Medical College.

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Correspondence to Xia Huo.

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Zheng, G., Xu, X., Li, B. et al. Association between lung function in school children and exposure to three transition metals from an e-waste recycling area. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 23, 67–72 (2013).

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  • e-waste
  • FVC
  • oxidative stress
  • school children
  • transition metals

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