Heavy metal contamination in soils and vegetables near an e-waste processing site, south China

Chunling Luo, Chuanping Liu, Yan Wang, Xiang Liu, Fangbai Li, Gan Zhang, Xiangdong Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

576 Citations (Scopus)


Environmental pollution due to uncontrolled e-waste recycling activities has been reported in a number of locations of China. In the present study, metal pollution to the surrounding environment from a primitive e-waste processing facility was investigated. Soils at sites where e-waste is burned in the open air, those of surrounding paddy fields and vegetable gardens, as well as common vegetable samples were collected and analyzed for heavy metals. The results showed that the soils of former incineration sites had the highest concentrations of Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn with mean values of 17.1, 11,140, 4500, and 3690mgkg-1, respectively. The soils of nearby paddy fields and vegetable gardens also had relatively high concentrations of Cd and Cu. In the edible tissues of vegetables, the concentrations of Cd and Pb in most samples exceeded the maximum level permitted for food in China. Sequential leaching tests revealed that the Cu, Pb, and Zn were predominantly associated with the residual fraction, followed by the carbonate/specifically adsorbed phases with the exception of Cd, which was mainly in the extractable form in paddy fields and vegetable soils. The data showed that uncontrolled e-waste processing operations caused serious pollution to local soils and vegetables. The cleaning up of former incineration sites should be a priority in any future remediation program.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-490
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2011


  • E-waste
  • Heavy metals
  • Risk index
  • Sequential leaching
  • Soil
  • Vegetable

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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