Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 675–687 | Cite as

Risk assessment of exposure to particulate output of a demolition site

  • A. Brown
  • J. E. S. Barrett
  • H. Robinson
  • S. Potgieter-Vermaak
Original Paper


Whilst vehicular and industrial contributions to the airborne particulate budget are well explored, the input due to building demolition is relatively unknown. Air quality is of importance to human health, and it is well known that composition of airborne particles can have a significant influence on both chronic and acute health effects. Road dust (RD) was collected before and after the demolition of a large building to elucidate changes in elemental profile. Rainfall and PM10 mass concentration data aided interpretation of the elemental data. Quantification of Al, As, Ba, Ca, Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, Na, Ni, Pb, Rh, S, Si, Sn, Ti, V and Zn was carried out. It was found that only Al, K, Mg, Si and S increased in concentration across all size fractions after the building demolition. Risk assessment was then carried out on elements with applicable reference dose values to assess the potential health risks due to the demolition. Significant risk to children was observed for chromium and aluminium exposure. PM10, monitored 40 metres from the demolition site, indicated no abnormal concentrations during the demolition; however, rainfall data were shown to affect the concentration of PM10. The elemental data observed in this study could possibly indicate the role of increased sulphur concentrations (in this case as a result of the demolition) on the buffer capacity of RD, hence leaching metals into rainwater.


Road dust Demolition Elemental concentration Buffer capacity 

Supplementary material

10653_2015_9747_MOESM1_ESM.docx (19 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 18 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Brown
    • 1
  • J. E. S. Barrett
    • 1
  • H. Robinson
    • 1
  • S. Potgieter-Vermaak
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Chemistry and Environmental ScienceManchester Metropolitan UniversityManchesterUK
  2. 2.School of Chemistry, Molecular Science InstituteUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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