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Leaded electronic waste is a possible material for lead-contaminated jewelry
Chemosphere (2007)
  • Jeffrey D Weidenhamer, Ashland University
  • Michael L Clement, Ashland University
Highly leaded jewelry, often imported from China, remains widely available in the United States. Leaded electronic waste is exported from the United States to several Asian countries where solder is recovered and circuit boards are stripped of parts in small workshops. To assess whether electronic waste is being recycled into the jewelry, lead, tin and copper content of highly leaded jewelry samples were determined by atomic absorption spectrometry. Sixteen jewelry items previously determined to contain 20–80% lead by weight were analyzed. Samples were digested in nitric acid for analysis of lead and copper, and in aqua regia for analysis of tin. Six samples contained significant amounts of tin, from 20.8% to 29.9% by weight. In addition, copper was a significant minor component of five of these samples (up to 4% by weight). Copper (present at 10–40% by weight in circuit boards) was shown to rapidly move into heated lead–tin solder. The combined lead–tin–copper content of these six items ranges from 93.5% to 100%, suggestive of a solder-based source material. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that recycled circuit board solders are being used to produce some of the heavily leaded imported jewelry sold in the United States. Should this hypothesis be substantiated, it suggests that environmental policies to protect children’s health must address both proper recycling of source materials as well as restrictions of the lead content in consumer goods.
  • Lead,
  • Jewelry,
  • Neurotoxicity,
  • Children’s health,
  • Electronic waste
Publication Date
October, 2007
Citation Information
Jeffrey D Weidenhamer and Michael L Clement. "Leaded electronic waste is a possible material for lead-contaminated jewelry" Chemosphere Vol. 69 Iss. 7 (2007)
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