A strong spatial association between e-waste burn sites and childhood lymphoma in the West Bank, Palestine

John Michael Davis, Yaakov Garb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

A paper in the International Journal of Cancer analyzed Palestinian cancer registry data in the West Bank from 1998 to 2007, showing a cluster of elevated cancer incidence in rural villages in south-west Hebron, with a 4.10 risk ratio for childhood lymphoma (p = 0.0023). The paper called for investigation of the environmental or genetic etiologies of this cluster in an otherwise unremarkable rural area. 1 Our research in these same villages shows them to be the center of an extensive informal electronic and electrical waste (e-waste) dismantling industry in Palestine, operating for almost two decades. This entails extensive open-burning of e-waste components to extract valuable metals or dispose of nonvaluable waste, releasing high concentrations of hazardous contaminants, which may be an important factor in the elevated cancer incidence. We offer a first step in assessing this link. We applied a novel multitemporal object-based method to map the prevalence and intensity of e-waste burn sites in the entire Hebron Governorate (1,060 km 2 ) between 1999 and 2007. A weighted standard deviation ellipse of cumulative burn activity covers a smaller area (247 km 2 ) very closely matching the childhood lymphoma cluster: it contains 85% of the core cluster area (RR of 4.1), and falls almost entirely (95%) within the broader area of elevated risk (RR of 2.8). Extensive international evidence linking informal e-waste processing to elevated cancer incidence and this strong spatial association of e-waste burning activity with a distinct unexplained cancer cluster in the Palestinian context signals the urgent need for investigation and intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)470-475
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Volume144
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2019

Keywords

  • E-waste
  • Palestine
  • West Bank
  • cancer mapping
  • childhood lymphoma
  • remote sensing

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