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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Profile occurrences and in vitro effects of toxic organic pollutants in metal shredding facilities in Wallonia (Belgium)

Doan, Thi Que; Pham, Anh Duc; Brouhon, Jean-Marc; Lundqvist, Johan; Scippo, Marie-Louise;


End-of-life vehicles and e-waste contain several hazardous substances that can contaminate the environment during treatment processes. Occurrences and adverse effects of toxic organic pollutants emitted from 3 shredder plants located in Wallonia, Belgium, were investigated by chemical and biological analyses of fluff, dust, and scrubbing sludge sampled in 2019. Site 1 showed the highest concentrations of chlorinated compounds in sludge with 7.5 ng/g polychlorinated dibenzo-dioxins/furans and 84.5 mu g/g estimated total polychlorinated biphenyls, while site 3 led the brominated flame retardant levels in dust (53.4 mu g/g). The level of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons was highest in the sludge samples, 78 and 71 mu g/g for sites 2 and 3, respectively. The samples induced significant dioxin-like activities in murine and human cells at concentrations of around 0.01-0.1 and 0.5-1 ng (sample) per ml (medium), respectively, with the efficacy similar to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin and EC50 values of around 1 and 10 ng/ml. The samples also displayed high estrogenic activities, already at 1 ng/ml, and several induced a response as efficient as 17 beta-estradiol, albeit a low androgenic activity. Shredder workers were estimated to be highly exposed to dioxin-like compounds through dust ingestion and dermal absorption, which is of concern.


E-waste; End-of-life vehicles (ELVs); Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs); Cell-based bioassays; Recycling

Published in

Journal of Hazardous Materials

2022, volume: 423, article number: 127009
Publisher: ELSEVIER

Authors' information

University of Liège
Pham, Anh Duc
Leiden University
Brouhon, Jean-Marc
Walloon Agency for Air and Climate
Scippo, Marie-Louise
University of Liege

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG3 Good health and wellbeing
SDG12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)