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Sources appointment and health risks of PM2.5-bound trace elements in a coastal city of southeastern China

Jinsheng Chen , Ziyi Lin , Xiaolong Fan , Gaojie Chen , Youwei Hong , Mengren Li , Lingling Xu , Baoye Hu , Chen Yang , Yanting Chen , Zhiqian Shao


Received December 18, 2022,Revised , Accepted March 04, 2023, Available online March 21, 2023

Volume 36,2024,Pages 561-571

To gain a comprehensive understanding of sources and health risks of trace elements in an area of China with high population densities and low PM2.5 concentrations, 15 trace elements (Al, K, Ca, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Sn, Ba, Pb) in PM2.5 were monitored from December 2020 to November 2021 in a representative city, Xiamen. The concentrations of trace elements in Xiamen displayed an obvious seasonal variation and were dominated by K, Fe, Al, Ca and Zn. Based on Positive Matrix Factorization analysis, source appointment revealed that the major sources of trace elements in Xiamen were traffic, dust, biomass and firework combustion, industrial manufacture and shipping emission. According to health risk assessment combined with the source appointment results, it indicated that the average noncarcinogenic risk was below the threshold and cancer risk of four hazardous metals (Cr, Ni, As, Pb) exceeded the threshold (10−6). Traffic-related source had almost half amount of contribution to the health risk induced by PM2.5-bound trace elements. During the dust transport period or Spring Festival period, the health risks exceeded an acceptable threshold even an order of magnitude higher, suggesting that the serious health risks still existed in low PM2.5 environment at certain times. Health risk assessment reminded that the health risk reduction in PM2.5 at southeastern China should prioritize traffic-related hazardous trace elements and highlighted the importance of controlling vehicles emissions in the future.

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