Response of PM2.5-bound elemental species to emission variations and associated health risk assessment during the COVID-19 pandemic in a coastal megacity

Congrui Deng , Guochen Wang , Kan Huang , Qingyan Fu , Jia Chen , Juntao Huo , Qianbiao Zhao , Yusen Duan , Yanfen Lin , Fan Yang , Wenjie Zhang , Hao Li , Jian Xu , Xiaofei Qin , Na Zhao


Received March 12, 2021,Revised , Accepted October 06, 2021, Available online October 18, 2021

Volume 34,2022,Pages 115-127

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is disrupting the world from many aspects. In this study, the impact of emission variations on PM2.5-bound elemental species and health risks associated to inhalation exposure has been analyzed based on real-time measurements at a remote coastal site in Shanghai during the pandemic. Most trace elemental species decreased significantly and displayed almost no diel peaks during the lockdown. After the lockdown, they rebounded rapidly, of which V and Ni even exceeded the levels before the lockdown, suggesting the recovery of both inland and shipping activities. Five sources were identified based on receptor modeling. Coal combustion accounted for more than 70% of the measured elemental concentrations before and during the lockdown. Shipping emissions, fugitive/mineral dust, and waste incineration all showed elevated contributions after the lockdown. The total non-carcinogenic risk (HQ) for the target elements exceeded the risk threshold for both children and adults with chloride as the predominant species contributing to HQ. Whereas, the total carcinogenic risk (TR) for adults was above the acceptable level and much higher than that for children. Waste incineration was the largest contributor to HQ, while manufacture processing and coal combustion were the main sources of TR. Lockdown control measures were beneficial for lowering the carcinogenic risk while unexpectedly increased the non-carcinogenic risk. From the perspective of health effects, priorities of control measures should be given to waste incineration, manufacture processing, and coal combustion. A balanced way should be reached between both lowering the levels of air pollutants and their health risks.

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