Metals in e-waste: Occurrence, fate, impacts and remediation technologies
Process Safety and Environmental Protection
School of Engineering
Electronic waste (e-waste) is generated from the discarded electronic products. The generation of e-waste has increased significantly in the recent decades. Globally, the increased rate of e-waste generation is almost 2 metric tonnes (Mt) per year. It is estimated that about 74 Mt of e-waste will be produced in 2030. Therefore, e-waste can be a significant threat to the environment. Toxic metals (e.g., lead, mercury, nickel, and cadmium) are released to the environment from the e-waste and eventually enter into soil, sediment, groundwater, and surface water. The release of toxic metals in the environment causes adverse effects on human health, aquatic animals, and plants. Therefore, the proper management of e-waste is essential and becomes a major concern in the world. In this regard, this review provides a comprehensive summary of the occurrence, fate, and remediation of metals generated from e-waste. The literature survey revealed that household electrical appliances are the primary source of e-waste, comprising approximately 50% of the overall production of e-waste. Among different remediation technologies, the combination of biological, physical, and chemical processes shows relatively high removal efficiency; and they possess multiple advantages over other remediation technologies. Finally, this review also includes future outlook on e-waste management and remediation technologies.