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Air quality intervention during the Nanjing youth olympic games altered PM sources, chemical composition, and toxicological responses

Rönkkö, Teemu J., Hirvonen, Maija-Riitta, Happo, Mikko S., Leskinen, Ari, Koponen, Hanna, Mikkonen, Santtu, Bauer, Stefanie, Ihantola, Tuukka, Hakkarainen, Henri, Miettinen, Mirella, Orasche, Jürgen, Gu, Cheng, Wang, Qin'geng, Jokiniemi, Jorma, Sippula, Olli, Komppula, Mika, Jalava, Pasi I.
Environmental research 2020 v.185 pp. 109360
air quality, chemical composition, coal, coculture, control methods, cytotoxicity, emissions, environmental health, epithelium, fuel combustion, macrophages, models, oxidative stress, particulates, seasonal variation, sports, toxicology, traffic, youth, China
Ambient particulate matter (PM) is a leading global environmental health risk. Current air quality regulations are based on airborne mass concentration. However, PM from different sources have distinct chemical compositions and varied toxicity. Connections between emission control measures, air quality, PM composition, and toxicity remain insufficiently elucidated. The current study assessed the composition and toxicity of PM collected in Nanjing, China before, during, and after an air quality intervention for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games. A co-culture model that mimics the alveolar epithelium with the associated macrophages was created using A549 and THP-1 cells. These cells were exposed to size-segregated inhalable PM samples. The composition and toxicity of the PM samples were influenced by several factors including seasonal variation, emission sources, and the air quality intervention. For example, we observed a size-dependent shift in particle mass concentrations during the air quality intervention with an emphasized proportion of smaller particles (PM₂.₅) present in the air.The roles of industrial and fuel combustion and traffic emissions were magnified during the emission control period. Our analyses revealed that the PM samples demonstrated differential cytotoxic potencies at equal mass concentrations between sampling periods, locations, and time of day, influenced by variations in the predominant emission sources. Coal combustion and industrial emissions were the most important sources affecting the toxicological responses and displayed the least variation in emission contributions between the sampling periods. In conclusion, emission control mitigated cytotoxicity and oxidative stress for particles larger than 0.2 μm, but there was inadequate evidence to determine if it was the key factor reducing the harmful effects of PM₀.₂.