E-waste Recycling

U-M Team Members

Rick Neitzel (PI) – School of Public Health, Environmental Health Sciences
Olivier Jolliet – School of Public Health, Environmental Health Sciences
Sara Adar – School of Public Health, Epidemiology
Shobita Parthasarathy – Ford School of Public Policy
Jesse Austin-Breneman – College of Engineering, Mechanical Engineering
Jose Alfaro – School of Natural Resources and Environment; College of Engineering, Electrical Engineerin and Computer Science
Andrew Jones – School of Public Health, Nutrition
Stephanie Saylor – School of Public Health, Research Area Specialist Senior 

Thai Partners

Dr. Nirawan Sanphoti – Kasetsart University, Public Health
Dr. Kowit Nambunmee – Mae Fah Luang University, Medical Science
Kalasin Provincial Public Health Office
Thai National Ministry of Public Health

External Advisors

Elena Page – US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Anneli Julander – Karolinska University, Sweden
Katie Schindall – EMC, Inc.

Project Summary

E-waste—electronic waste, or discarded household or business products that contain circuitry or electrical components—is a global and growing threat to human and ecosystem health. Low-income countries bear a disproportionate burden of the impacts of e-waste, as higher-income countries often export waste to be recycled or disposed of in these less expensive settings. This creates much-needed employment opportunities in low-income countries, but the informal recycling and disposal approaches currently used in these resource-constrained settings recover only a fraction of potentially recyclable materials while exposing workers and communities to hazardous agents.  
With support from the Graham Institute, University of Michigan researchers are developing a research-to-practice project to explore solutions to comprehensively address the challenging and complex issues surrounding e-waste recycling. 
In collaboration with their Thai colleagues, over a dozen students from U-M and universities in Thailand, and local public health staff, the team completed a comprehensive assessment of exposures among e-waste workers performing recycling and dismantling on domestic waste in Kalasin, Thailand during the summer of 2016. The team is actively working with additional partners to identify a second e-waste recycling community in South America.


This project received a $250,000 Integrated Assessment Grant in 2016.