The Global Impacts of E-waste Exposure and E-waste Recycling Policy on Maternal and Fetal Health (2019-2020)

This Bass Connections project team researched the global health effects of e-waste recycling in Taizhou, China, through lab-based and community-based science. Team members worked in small groups to research and report their findings:

  • The policy team wrote a policy brief highlighting the discrepancy between the national regulation of e-waste and the reality of current practices. The brief argues that while national policies set a respectable precedent, economic gains of e-waste recycling will continue to outweigh adverse human health until local actors are mobilized to carry out regulation and enforcement.
  • The community research team analyzed Taizhou community surveys and exposure data. Overall, they found that community members were at high risk of exposure to e-waste remnants in the environment and there was a lack of effective communication between these affected communities and government.
  • The lab team completed initial testing of experiments to investigate the cellular effects of e-waste chemical exposure on placental development. They determined dosing parameters of chemicals of interest, and plan to measure the resulting changes in global DNA methylation levels and mitochondrial copy number next year.

In addition, a few team members presented their work to middle and high school students as part of Duke Splash. They discussed the definition of electronic waste, different stakeholders in the electronics industry and best practices for being an informed consumer of electronic goods.


Fall 2019 – Spring 2020 

Team Outputs

E-waste Impact on Birth Outcomes (Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Virtual Showcase 2020)

Impacts of E-waste Exposure on Maternal and Fetal Health (poster by Ashley Choi, Nadrat Chowdhury, Christine Crute, Ellea Lamb, Julia Murphy, Angela Pham, Aneesha Raj, Yan Sun, Connie Xiong, Amy Zhao, Liping Feng)


Christine Crute

This Team in the News

Duke Alumna with Research Focus on Maternal-fetal Health Plans Post-doc Fellowship Abroad

Duke Ob/Gyn, Bass Connections Collaboration Studies E-waste and Impact on Maternal-Fetal Health

Where Do Our Discarded Electronics Go?

Conducting a Survey in China While Respecting Local Concern

Meet the Members of the 2019-2020 Bass Connections Student Advisory Council

Student Summers Were Made for Learning and Service

Students in the Field: Christine Crute

Four Lessons from a Novice Field Researcher

See related team, Impacts of Maternal Exposure to E-waste on Birth Outcomes (2020-2021).


Image: Guiyu e-waste, by Bert van Dijk 

Guiyu e-waste, by Bert van Dijk.

Team Leaders

  • Christine Crute, Nicholas School of the Environment–Integrated Toxicology–Ph.D. Student
  • Liping Feng, School of Medicine-Obstetrics and Gynecology

/graduate Team Members

  • Nadratun Chowdhury, Civil & Environmental Engg-MS, Civil & Environmental Engg-PHD
  • Wanchen Xiong, Master of Environmental Management, Ecotoxicology & Environmental Health

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Ashley Choi, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Elizabeth Lamb, Political Science (AB)
  • Julia Murphy, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Kieu Pham, Biology (BS)
  • Aneesha Raj, Biology (BS)
  • Amy Zhao, Biology (BS)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • John Ji, Duke Kunshan University
  • Susan Murphy, School of Medicine-Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Junfeng (Jim) Zhang, Nicholas School of the Environment-Environmental Sciences and Policy

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Conghuai Yan, Shanghai Jiaotong University