Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 21, pp 17500–17510 | Cite as

Cancer risk from gaseous carbonyl compounds in indoor environment generated from household coal combustion in Xuanwei, China

  • Ka-Hei Lui
  • Wen-Ting Dai
  • Chi-Sing Chan
  • Linwei Tian
  • Bo-Fu Ning
  • Yiping Zhou
  • Xiaolin Song
  • Bei WangEmail author
  • Jinwen Li
  • Jun-Ji Cao
  • Shun-Cheng Lee
  • Kin-Fai HoEmail author
Research Article


Airborne carbonyls were characterized from emitted indoor coal combustion. Samples were collected in Xuanwei (Yunnan Province), a region in China with a high rate of lung cancer. Eleven of 19 types of samples (58%) demonstrated formaldehyde concentrations higher than the World Health Organization exposure limit (a 30-min average of 100 μg m−3). Different positive significant correlations between glyoxal/methylglyoxal and formaldehyde/acetaldehyde concentrations were observed, suggesting possible different characteristics in emissions between two pairs of carbonyl compounds. A sample in the highest inhalation risk shows 29.2 times higher risk than the lowest sample, suggesting different coal sampling locations could contribute to the variation of inhalation risk. Inhabitants in Xuanwei also tend to spend more time cooking and more days per year indoors than the national average. The calculated cancer risk ranged from 2.2–63 × 10−5, which shows 13 types of samples at high-risk level. Cumulative effect in combination with different carbonyls could have contributed to the additive actual inhalation cancer risk. There is a need to explicitly address the health effects of environmentally relevant doses, considering life-long exposure in indoor dwellings.


Carbonyl Indoor air Coal Cancer risk 



This study is supported by the project under the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region China (Project No. CUHK 412612). The author would like to thank Xiao-Cui Chen for her assistance in laboratory.

Supplementary material

11356_2017_9223_MOESM1_ESM.docx (3.2 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 3277 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ka-Hei Lui
    • 1
  • Wen-Ting Dai
    • 2
    • 3
  • Chi-Sing Chan
    • 1
  • Linwei Tian
    • 4
  • Bo-Fu Ning
    • 5
  • Yiping Zhou
    • 6
  • Xiaolin Song
    • 6
  • Bei Wang
    • 7
    Email author
  • Jinwen Li
    • 6
  • Jun-Ji Cao
    • 2
    • 8
  • Shun-Cheng Lee
    • 9
  • Kin-Fai Ho
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.The Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary CareThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Aerosol Chemistry and Physics, SKLLQG, Institute of Earth EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesXi’anChina
  3. 3.The State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth and EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesXi’anChina
  4. 4.School of Public HealthThe University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  5. 5.Xuanwei City Center for Disease Control and Prevention—Chronic Non-infectious Disease Control DepartmentXuanweiChina
  6. 6.Coal Geology Prospecting Institute of Yunnan ProvinceKunmingChina
  7. 7.Faculty of Science and TechnologyTechnological and Higher Education Institute of Hong KongHong KongChina
  8. 8.Institute of Global Environmental ChangeXi’an Jiaotong UniversityXi’anChina
  9. 9.Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, Research Center of Urban Environmental Technology and ManagementThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityHong KongChina

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