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Health risk apportionment of arsenic from multiple exposure pathways in Paracatu, a gold mining town in Brazil

Ng, Jack C., Ciminelli, Virginia, Gasparon, Massimo, Caldeira, Claudia
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.673 pp. 36-43
World Health Organization, arsenic, beans, bioavailability, breathing, dust, exposure pathways, gold, groundwater, health effects assessments, ingestion, mining, neoplasms, particulates, rice, risk, roadsides, soil, surveys, Brazil
This study assessed various exposure pathways of arsenic and their health risk apportionment to the residents of Paracatu, a gold mining town in Brazil. We measured arsenic concentrations in 50 groundwater and surface town water samples from nearby residences, 38 surface soil dust from residential/commercial dwellings and roadside of Paracatu, and 600 airborne dust samples including PM10 and total suspended particulates (TSP), in additional to a previous reported food survey containing 90 samples from 15 major food categories. For the surface soil dust, bioaccessibility of arsenic as a surrogate of bioavailability was determined using an in vitro physiologically based extraction test (PBET). Rice and bean were found to contain the highest levels of arsenic in which the arsenic speciation was measured whereas the percentages of inorganic arsenic of other food items were taken from the literature for the risk apportionment calculation. The results show that the contribution of inhaled arsenic is ≤3% of the total daily intake, even assuming 100% BAC. The average bioaccessibility of arsenic in the surface soil dust was 3.4 ± 2.0% (n = 17) with a bioaccessible concentration of 4.1 ± 3.7 mg/kg. Food was the main contributor of the daily total intake of arsenic with rice and beans being the most significant ones. The total arsenic intake (ingestion + inhalation) is about 10% of the JECFA BMDL0.5 of 3 μg/kg b.w. per day, and the combined risk based on the cancer slope calculation is similar to the arsenic intake from the consumption of 2 L of water containing 10 μg/L of arsenic, a maximum concentration recommended by WHO. The holistic approach by addressing multiple pathways of exposure is considered a useful tool for health risk assessment throughout the life of mine including mine closure, and can be applied at legacy sites.