Sources of 24-h personal exposure to PM2.5-bound metals: results from a panel study in Wuhan, China

Abstract

Atmospheric PM2.5-bound metals have been widely addressed, but research on the exposure levels and sources of personal PM2.5-bound metals among urban community residents is limited. The aim of this study is to explore the exposure levels and sources of 24-h personal PM2.5-bound metals among community inhabitants in Wuhan, China. We conducted a penal study of 216 observations with measurements of 16 metals bounded to 24-h personal PM2.5 samples in April–May, 2014, 2017. Analyses of covariance were used to compare PM2.5-bound metal levels across different living habits and ambient conditions. Principal component analysis (PCA) with varimax rotation was performed to explore PM2.5-bound metal sources. Personal PM2.5-bound aluminum (Al) (113.41 ng/m3) showed the highest geometric mean (GM) concentration, followed by lead (Pb) (90.89 ng/m3), zinc (Zn) (67.71 ng/m3), and iron (Fe) (51.85 ng/m3). The elevated levels of PM2.5-bound Al, vanadium (V), manganese (Mn), arsenic (As), rubidium (Rb), cadmium (Cd), and thallium (Tl) were found in participants with cigarette smoke exposure, compared with those without. The concentrations of Rb and strontium (Sr) were positively associated with the time spent outdoors. The increased concentration of nickel (Ni) was found in individuals who spent > 30 min/day in traffic. The elevated levels of V, Mn, and cobalt (Co) were associated with a short distance from dwellings to the main road. The results of PCA showed that PM2.5-bound metals might come from five sources: As, selenium (Se), Rb, Cd, Tl, and Pb from cigarette smoke exposure; Al, V, Mn, Fe, and Sr from crustal dust; copper (Cu) and antimony (Sb) from industrial activities; Ni and Co from traffic emission; and Zn from coal combustion. The concentrations of PM2.5-bound metals in this study were at moderate levels. Cigarette smoke exposure, industrial activities, traffic emission, and coal combustion might be major anthropogenic sources of personal PM2.5-bound metal exposures in Wuhan, China.

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Data availability

The datasets generated and analyzed during the current study were not publicly available but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to all participants recruited in our study and all members of our study team.

Funding

This study was funded by Key Program of the National Nature Science Foundation of China (Grant Number: 91543207) and Major Research Program of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Number: 91843302).

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Contributions

X.W. performed the statistical analyses, interpreted the results, and drafted the manuscript. X.W., B.W., L.X., X.C., X.C., S.Y., G.M., T.X., M.Z., and W.C. contributed to the data acquisition, manuscript revision, and final version approval. X.W., M.Z., AND W.C. conceived and designed this study. W.C. was responsible for the design of the cohort study and obtaining funding.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Min Zhou or Weihong Chen.

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All participants in this study signed informed consent, and the research protocol was approved by the Ethics and Human Subject Committee of Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology.

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Wang, X., Wang, B., Xiao, L. et al. Sources of 24-h personal exposure to PM2.5-bound metals: results from a panel study in Wuhan, China. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-021-12386-y

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Keywords

  • PM2.5-bound metals
  • Personal exposure
  • Sources
  • PCA
  • Community residents
  • Cigarette smoke