Department of Chemical Pathology, Toxicology and Micronutrient Metabolism Unit, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria
Basel Convention Coordinating Centre for Training & Technology Transfer for the African Region & Department of Chemistry University of Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria
Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences, School of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Medical Sciences, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria
Chemical Pathology Laboratory, Faith MediPlex Hospital, Benin City, Nigeria
Â Â Large volumes of mostly irreparable electronic waste (e-waste) are shipped to Africa on a monthly basis, of which Nigeria receives the largest share. E-waste management practices in Nigeria have remained completely primitive until date; and e-waste workers have little or no occupational safety knowledge and devices. The thousands of chemicals in e-waste have been reported to be toxic to human health in any degree of exposure. The present study has assessed the risk of liver damage in workers occupationally exposed to e-waste in Benin City, South-south Nigeria in 2014. Serum activities of liver enzymes [alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), gamma glutamyltransferase (GGT) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP)]; and levels albumin (ALB), total bilirubin (T/Bil) and conjugated bilirubin (C/Bil) were determined using standard colorimetric methods. Serum Alpha fetoprotein (AFP) was determined using ELISA in Nigerian e-waste workers (n=63) and in age-matched unexposed participants (n=41) in Benin City. The results showed significantly raised activities of enzymatic biomarkers of liver damage (ALT, AST, ALP and GGT) in the e-waste group compared with the unexposed participants. There was no significant difference in the levels of ALB, T/Bil and C/Bil between exposed and unexposed participants. AFP levels in e-waste workers (3.56 Â± 0.34 ng/mL) were significantly different compared with the unexposed group (2.14 Â± 0.80 ng/mL) (P< 0.045). The significantly elevated cancer risk biomarker (AFP) and the enzymatic biomarkers of liver damage observed in the Nigerian e-waste workers studied may be associated with occupational exposure to known carcinogens and hepatotoxic metals in e-waste.