Exposure to heavy metals in blood and risk perception of the population living in the vicinity of municipal waste incinerators in Korea
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Background, aim, and scope
The purpose of this study was to monitor and present the heavy metal concentrations in the blood of residents of areas near municipal waste incinerators (MWIs), who are more prone to environmental pollution. We also sought to compare and analyze the residents’ perception of environmental pollution as one of the factors affecting heavy metal concentrations in the blood using a survey about the perceived damage caused by the facilities. Since heavy metal levels in the blood can be affected not only by local environmental pollution but also by personal and occupational factors, heavy metal levels in the blood need to be verified and consistently monitored.
Residents who live within 300 m of MWIs in Seoul are acknowledged to be under indirect influence according to the Waste Disposal Act. A survey was given to 841 residents living within 300 m of a MWI from 2006 to 2009. The concentrations of heavy metals (lead, cadmium, and mercury) in the blood were measured in the 841 surveyed residents and in 105 residents in reference areas. Additionally, the perception of the damage caused by municipal waste incinerators was investigated using scores from 1 to 5 on a Likert scale.
The measurements of the heavy metal concentrations in the blood showed that the mean concentrations of lead, cadmium, and mercury were 43.1, 1.7, and 1.3 ug/L, respectively. The blood levels of lead and cadmium were slightly higher in the group of the subjects who had resided the longest near the municipal waste incinerators. When compared with the domestic investigation by the Ministry of Environment, the concentrations of lead and cadmium were a little higher, while that of mercury was a little lower. Overall, there was no significant difference in the distribution of heavy metal levels in the blood among age groups. Additionally, the investigation of the perceived damage from municipal waste incinerators showed that the subjects
KeywordsExposure Heavy metals Risk perception Municipal waste incinerators
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