PM2.5 chemical composition and health risks by inhalation near a chemical complex

Célia Alves, Margarita Evtyugina, Estela Vicente, Ana Vicente, Ismael Casotti Rienda, Ana Sánchez de la Campa, Mário Tomé, Iola Duarte, J. Environ. Sci. 2023, 124, 860 – 874

Particulate matter (PM2.5) samples were collected in the vicinity of an industrial chemical pole and analysed for organic and elemental carbon (OC and EC), 47 trace elements and around 150 organic constituents. On average, OC and EC accounted for 25.2% and 11.4% of the PM2.5 mass, respectively. Organic compounds comprised polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), alkylated PAHs, anhydrosugars, phenolics, aromatic ketones, glycerol derivatives, aliphatic alcohols, sterols, and carboxyl groups, including aromatic, carboxylic and dicarboxylic acids. Enrichment factors > 100 were obtained for Pb, Cd, Zn, Cu, Sn, B, Se, Bi, Sb and Mo, showing the contribution of industrial emissions and nearby major roads. Principal component analysis revealed that vehicle, industrial and biomass burning emissions accounted for 66%, 11% and 9%, respectively, of the total PM2.5-bound PAHs. Some of the detected organic constituents are likely associated with plasticiser ingredients and thermal stabilisers used in the manufacture of PVC and other plastics in the industrial complex. Photooxidation products of both anthropogenic (e.g., toluene) and biogenic (e.g., isoprene and pinenes) precursors were also observed. It was estimated that biomass burning accounted for 13.8% of the PM2.5 concentrations and that secondary OC represented 37.6% of the total OC. The lifetime cancer risk from inhalation exposure to PM2.5-bound PAHs was found to be negligible, but it exceeded the threshold of 10−6 for metal(loi)s, mainly due to Cr and As.