Environmental and health impacts due to e-waste disposal in China – A review

Weila Li, Varenyam Achal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

148 Scopus citations


E-waste is discarded and shipped mostly to developing countries located in Asian continent for disposal from other developed countries. Especially 70% of the world's e-waste ends up in Guiyu, a small town located in Guangdong Province of China. As little as 25% is recycled in formal recycling centers with adequate protection for workers and the other e-waste arrived in those areas is not handled in organized manner. As per reports only roughly 12.5% of e-waste is actually recycled, and the recycling efforts in those regions are primitive and result in toxic substances being leached into the surrounding ecosystems. In addition to persistent organic pollutants, there are many heavy metals found in the ground and river sediments in Guiyu, exceeding the threshold set to protect human health. Those areas are no longer suitable for growing food, and water is unsafe for drinking, due to the amount of toxins leached into the groundwater and land. Hazardous threats to environment and human health due to hazardous substances of e-waste all around China, as well as the current e-waste management were documented in this review. The article concludes with controlled contamination sources, and eco-friendly and efficient remediation technologies to solve e-waste problem in China.

Original languageEnglish
Article number139745
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • China
  • E-waste
  • Environmental contaminants
  • Government management
  • Human health


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