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Fractionation of airborne particulate-bound elements in haze-fog episode and associated health risks in a megacity of southeast China

Li, Huiming, Wang, Qin'geng, Shao, Min, Wang, Jinhua, Wang, Cheng, Sun, Yixuan, Qian, Xin, Wu, Hongfei, Yang, Meng, Li, Fengying
Environmental pollution 2016 v.208 pp. 655-662
arsenic, bioavailability, cadmium, cities, copper, fractionation, lead, molybdenum, particulates, risk, temperature, zinc, China
Haze caused by high particulate matter loadings is an important environmental issue. PM2.5 was collected in Nanjing, China, during a severe haze–fog event and clear periods. The particulate-bound elements were chemically fractionated using sequential extractions. The average PM2.5 concentration was 3.4 times higher during haze–fog (96–518 μg/m³) than non-haze fog periods (49–142 μg/m³). Nearly all elements showed significantly higher concentrations during haze–fog than non-haze fog periods. Zn, As, Pb, Cd, Mo and Cu were considered to have higher bioavailability and enrichment degree in the atmosphere. Highly bioavailable fractions of elements were associated with high temperatures. The integrated carcinogenic risk for two possible scenarios to individuals exposed to metals was higher than the accepted criterion of 10⁻⁶, whereas noncarcinogenic risk was lower than the safe level of 1. Residents of a city burdened with haze will incur health risks caused by exposure to airborne metals.