Recycling plastics from WEEE: a review of the environmental and human health challenges associated with brominated flame retardants

Cecilia Chaine*, Andrew S. Hursthouse, Bruce McLean, Iain McLellan, Brian McMahon, Jim McNulty, Jan Miller, Evi Viza

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
77 Downloads (Pure)


Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) presents the dual characteristic of containing both hazardous substances and valuable recoverable materials. Mainly found in WEEE plastics, brominated flame retardants (BFRs) are a component of particular interest. Several actions have been taken worldwide to regulate their use and disposal, however, in countries where no regulation is in place, the recovery of highly valuable materials has promoted the development of informal treatment facilities, with serious consequences for the environment and the health of the workers and communities involved. Hence, in this review we examine a wide spectrum of aspects related to WEEE plastic management. A search of legislation and the literature was made to determine the current legal framework by region/country. Additionally, we focused on identifying the most relevant methods of existing industrial processes for determining BFRs and their challenges. BFR occurrence and substitution by novel BFRs (NBFRs) was reviewed. An emphasis was given to review the health and environmental impacts associated with BFR/NBFR presence in waste, consumer products, and WEEE recycling facilities. Knowledge and research gaps of this topic were highlighted. Finally, the discussion on current trends and proposals to attend to this relevant issue were outlined.
Original languageEnglish
Article number766
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2022


  • WEEE
  • brominated flame retardants (BFR)
  • electrical and electronic equipment
  • waste
  • WEEE plastics


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