I have encountered this sentence and I wonder what does the words "hazardous fractions" mean?

Is it even the right word in the first place?

Here is the sentence:

Are you aware that some hazardous fractions in e-waste need a special treatment in order to be safely disposed of?

  • 4
    ...I was really hoping this was going to be a mathematics related question when I saw the title....
    – Adam
    Aug 10, 2015 at 16:49
  • 1
    @adam I think 1.7/4 is a hazardous fraction. :-)
    – Jay
    Aug 10, 2015 at 17:14
  • 3
    @Jay: I think 19/95, 26/65, and 16/64 are much more scary! They're trying to convince us we can reduce a fraction to its simplest form merely by striking out whatever digit appears in both the numerator and the denominator - so we'll be lulled into a false sense of security, thinking fractions are easy! Aug 10, 2015 at 17:28

2 Answers 2


"Fractions" is used in engineering and medicine, particularly fields that deal with chemistry, to refer to parts of a total quantity that share attributes. In blood, for instance, the three primary factions are plasma, white blood cells and red blood cells. (Wiki: Blood Fractionation)

Wikipedia defines the related term, Fractional Distillation as separation of a mixture into its component parts, or fractions.

In the petroleum industry, the fractions would be various grades of oils, gasoline, kerosene, asphalt, paraffin, etc.

In liquor distilling, the fractions are the (most drinkable) center cut, the verging-on-poisonous heads and the oily, rancid tails.

I read the sentence as Are you aware that some definable sub-portion of e-waste is hazardous and needs a special treatment in order to be safely disposed of?

  • Fractional distillation is the root of the other two usages.
    – hildred
    Aug 11, 2015 at 4:00
  • so e-waste is some sort of e-ffluent? Aug 11, 2015 at 20:38
  • I assume "e-waste" is a shortening of "environmental waste". Aug 20, 2015 at 0:28

"Fraction" here means "segment, part, subset". The sentence means that, in a given collection of (hazardous) e-waste, there are going to be certain parts that require special treatment — a certain percentage or fraction of them, even. For example, 1 out of every 5 parts (1/5) might be a CRT monitor.

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