Publisher: Chemical Society of Nigeria

Reducing Environmental Pollution: Acid-Precipitation of Lead From Electrical and Electronic Equipment

J. N. Afiukwa, J. C. Agunwamba, O. C. Eneh
KEYWORDS: Recycling, E-waste, Lead, Precipitation, Waste minimization, Green environment.


Poverty and ignorance underlies the demand for inferior information communications technology (ICT) products in developing countries in Africa. These inferior or obsolete electrical and electronic materials including computers damage shortly and are dumped as wastes on agricultural soils and on water ways. Lead (Pb) contained in some of these materials can pollute water through leaching or absorbed by crops and plants. Lead is one of the major health risks and hazardous chemical components of WEEE found mainly in the cathode-ray tube of personal computers and as solders in other electronic appliances. The solder parts of this waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) were sorted and recycled by acid-precipitation to recover the metallic lead. Lead-containing powdered WEEE was dissolved in dilute trioxonitrate(V)acid (HNO3) and by heating a solution of lead(II)trioxonitrate(V) produced, the insoluble lead(II) oxide (PbO) precipitated was further reduced by carbonation to solid metallic lead. This study was an attempt to recover lead from e-waste with a view to minimising environmental and health risks associated with lead toxicities. It is recommended that users should be encouraged to deposit WEEE from homes, markets and offices in designated locations for easy collection. There is also the need for functional Electrical-Electronic Equipment Policy Framework that incorporates WEEE disposal to ensure strict compliance of all manufacturers and users of the products.

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