Main content area

Congener-specific composition of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in soil-air partitioning and the associated health risks

Xu, Chao, Niu, Lili, Zou, Deliang, Zhu, Siyu, Liu, Weiping
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.684 pp. 486-495
air, ambient temperature, carcinogenicity, health effects assessments, human health, polychlorinated biphenyls, prediction, risk, soil, soil organic matter, soil-atmosphere interactions, summer, winter
The recent changes in the compositions of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) after their restriction for 40 years may have various effects on human health. In order to characterize the congener-specific compositions of PCBs in the soil-air process and assess the associated human health risks, soil and air samples were simultaneously collected in winter and summer at two different functional locations. Homologue patterns suggest that long-range atmospheric transport might be the major source of soil and air residues of PCBs. The net deposition from air to soil was overwhelming for most PCB congeners. Variations in the occurrence and the homologue patterns of PCBs between the soil and air interface depended on chemical volatility, soil organic matter (OM) content, ambient temperature, topographical condition and atmospheric transport. Dioxin-like PCBs accounted for 11.0–70.3% and 2.31–54.8% of total PCB residues in soil and air, respectively. Non-carcinogenic and carcinogenic risks associated with exposure to soil and air PCBs were also estimated. Different PCB congeners showed different health effects, with the highest contribution from PCB-26. Additionally, the non-carcinogenic risk levels of PCBs were enhanced, while the carcinogenic risk levels decreased during the soil-air exchange process of PCBs with time. Our results highlight the soil-air interaction of PCBs in predicting their potential human exposure health risks.