Trace elements in plastics under WEEE and RoHS

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  • Published: Oct 18, 2013
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: Atomic

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Traces of antimony and chromium in waste plastics from electrical and electronic equipment can be estimated by continuum-source GF-AAS to ensure compliance with the WEEE and RoHS directives. These EU regulations were introduced to ensure the limited use and correct disposal and/or recycling of hazardous substances and this, in turn, led to the development of a range of methods for compliance.

Scientists in Brazil have devised the new procedure, described in Analytical Methods, which allows the direct analysis of solid samples, eliminating the need for initial extraction. In addition, the use of a xenon short arc lamp and a linear charge-coupled device as detector results in improved detection limits over other techniques like ICPMS and AAS.

When it was tested on a keyboard, mobile phone, remote control and a floppy disk, chromium was found in all of them at 0.88-3.9 mg/kg and antimony was found in three at 0.78-77 mg/kg.

In principle, the method could be extended to other trace elements that are used in plastics as flame retardants and stabilisers, which would be advantageous given that they would all be measurable by one procedure.

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