CGHE Funded Project

Characterizing the Environmental Burden of E-waste Recycling/Repair Workers in Bangladesh

E-waste in Bangladesh.

Electronic waste (e-waste) is a rising global environmental and health inequity issue for a number of reasons. Among them, it generates hundreds of contaminants, such as heavy metals, flame retardants, and other volatile organic compounds, to which both workers and their families are exposed. 

Building a framework and infrastructure for e-waste research

The ultimate goal of the project is to improve working conditions of e-waste workers in Dhaka city, and thus, improve their own health and that of their families. To begin to build a framework and infrastructure for e-waste research, the project aims to:

  1. Develop a census map for the e-waste repair and recycling sites and facilities.
  2. Estimate the number of e-waste workers at each site.
  3. Develope a strong collaboration with the local research partners.
  4. Identify community leaders in the e-waste repair/recycling community, individuals who could serve as partners in future research endeavors.
  5. Determine which local NGOs or organizations work with the recycling community and gauge the extent of their interest in collaborating.
  6. Collect dust and samples near the e-waste recycling and control sites (e.g., tailor shops).
  7. Measure heavy metal and organic contaminant concentrations in the dust and soil samples using inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS) and gas chromatography coupled with mass spectroscopy (GC-MS), respectively.

Recent Publications

Aich, N., K., K., Ahmed, S. I., & Sabo-Attwood, T. (2020). The Hidden Risks of E-Waste: Perspectives from Environmental Engineering, Epidemiology, Environmental Health, and Human–Computer Interaction. In K. Smith & P. Ram (Eds.), Transforming Global Health: Interdisciplinary Challenges, Perspectives, and Strategies. New York, NY: Springer.

Mowla, M., Rahman, E., Prottoy, H., Ahmed, S. I., Aich, N., & Islam, N. (2019). Health risk assessment of heavy metals in E-waste recycling shops in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Rifat, M. R., Aich, N., Rottoy, H. M., & Ahmed, S. I. (2018). Understanding the opportunities and challenges in e-waste management practices in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Paper presented at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems SIGCHI, Montreal, Canada. 

Wang, Y., Peris, A., Rifat, M. R., Ahmed, S. I., Aich, N., Nguyen, L. V., . . . Diamond, M. L. (2020). Measuring exposure of e-waste dismantlers in Dhaka Bangladesh to organophosphate esters and halogenated flame retardants using silicone wristbands and T-shirts. Sci Total Environ, 720, 137480. 

Our Team

Nirupam Aich

Project Lead, E-waste Recycling; Assistant Professor

Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering

232 Jarvis Hall

Phone: 716-645-0977

Email: nirupama@buffalo.edu

Katarzyna Kordas

Co-director, Community for Global Health Equity; Associate Professor; PI of the SAM Study

Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health

Current interests: chemical mixtures, social-chemical environment interactions, toxicant-diet interactions, child growth and development.

Phone: 716-829-5340; Fax: 716-829-2979

Email: kkordas@buffalo.edu

Ying (Jessica) Cao

Assistant Professor

Division of Health Services Policy and Practice, Epidemiology and Environmental Health

268G-H Farber Hall

Phone: 716-829-5369; Fax: 716-829-2979

Email: ycao25@buffalo.edu

  • The Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET)
  • International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b)
  • University of Toronto