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Insight study of rare earth elements in PM2.5 during five years in a Chinese inland city: Composition variations, sources, and exposure assessment

Chun-Gang Yuan , Yi-Wen Shen , Chang-Xian Zhao , Hao Zhao , Shuo-Fei Dong , Qi Guo , Jiao-Jiao Xie , Mei-Ling Lv


Received February 06, 2023,Revised , Accepted April 16, 2023, Available online April 24, 2023

Volume 36,2024,Pages 439-449

The booming development of rare earth industry and the extensive utilization of its products accompanied by urban development have led to the accelerated accumulation of rare earth elements (REEs) as emerging pollutants in atmospheric environment. In this study, the variation of REEs in PM2.5 with urban (a non-mining city) transformation was investigated through five consecutive years of sample collection. The compositional variability and provenance contribution of REEs in PM2.5 were characterized, and the REEs exposure risks of children and adults via inhalation, ingestion and dermal absorption were also evaluated. The results showed an increase in the total REEs concentration from 46.46 ± 35.16 mg/kg (2017) to 81.22 ± 38.98 mg/kg (2021) over the five-year period, with Ce and La making the largest contribution. The actual increment of industrial and traffic emission source among the three pollution sources was 1.34 ng/m3. Coal combustion source displayed a downward trend. Ingestion was the main exposure pathway for REEs in PM2.5 for both children and adults. Ce contributed the most to the total intake of REEs in PM2.5 among the population, followed by La and Nd. The exposure risks of REEs in PM2.5 in the region were relatively low, but the trend of change was of great concern. It was strongly recommended to strengthen the concern about traffic-related non-exhaust emissions of particulate matter.

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