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Ambient Air Heavy Metals in PM2.5 and Potential Human Health Risk Assessment in an Informal Electronic-Waste Recycling Site of China

Category: Air Pollution and Health Effects

Volume: 16 | Issue: 2 | Pages: 388-397
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2014.11.0292
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Xiangbin Zheng1, Xijin Xu1,2, Taofeek Akangbe Yekeen1, Yuling Zhang1, Aimin Chen3, Stephani S. Kim3, Kim N. Dietrich3, Shuk-Mei Ho3, Shu-An Lee4, Tiina Reponen 3, Xia Huo 1

  • 1 Laboratory of Environmental Medicine and Developmental Toxicology, and Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Immunopathology, Shantou University Medical College, Shantou 515041, Guangdong, China
  • 2 Department of Cell Biology and Genetics, Shantou University Medical College, Shantou 515041, Guangdong, China
  • 3 College of Medicine, Department of Environmental Health, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45267, USA
  • 4 Department of Environmental Engineering and Science, Feng Chia University, Taichung 40724, Taiwan

Highlights

PM2.5 samples were collected for a long period around the e-waste area in Guiyu.
High concentrations of PM2.5 mass and heavy metals were found in the Guiyu.
Higher heavy metal contents were observed during winter and spring seasons.
The health risk was higher in Guiyu compared to the reference area.
Heavy meals in PM2.5 may pose more public health risk to children than adults.


Abstract

In this study, we characterized the concentration of heavy metals in PM2.5 in the community with e-waste dismantling, Guiyu, China and assessed potential public health risk associated with heavy metal composition of PM2.5 for local residents. Daily samples of PM2.5 were collected with Harvard Impactors on the roof of 3-story buildings from March 2012–April 2013 in Guiyu (n = 133) and seasonal samples were collected in a reference site, Haojiang (n = 33). The concentrations of PM2.5 mass and heavy metals were analyzed gravimetrically and by graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry, respectively. The geometric mean concentrations of PM2.5, Pb and Cd in Guiyu were higher than in the reference area (PM2.5: 49.9 µg m–3 vs. 37.6 , p < 0.01; Pb: 160 ng m–3 vs. 69 ng m–3, p < 0.001; Cd: 5.7 ng m–3 vs. 3.4 ng m–3, p < 0.01), but Cr and Mn concentrations were not statistically different (Cr: 4.5 ng m–3 vs. 3.8 ng m–3, p > 0.05; Mn: 17 ng m–3 vs. 16 ng m–3, p > 0.05). The metal concentrations in PM2.5 from Guiyu were also higher when compared to other Asian cities. We observed higher heavy metal concentrations during winter and spring than summer and fall. Human health risk assessment showed that the total potential cancer risk for both adults and children are higher than the safe acceptable range recommended by the US EPA. Furthermore, the carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic elements in PM2.5 pose higher public health risk to children than adults. The results indicate that air pollution emitted from informal e-waste recycling activities might be affecting the health of local residents, especially children.

Keywords

E-waste PM2.5 Heavy metals Risk assessment Guiyu


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