Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 20, pp 19767–19778 | Cite as

Evolution of human health risk based on EPA modeling for adults and children and pollution level of potentially toxic metals in Rafsanjan road dust: a case study in a semi-arid region, Iran

  • Milad Mirzaei AminiyanEmail author
  • Mohammed Baalousha
  • Farzad Mirzaei Aminiyan
Research Article


Humans can be directly exposed to potentially toxic metals in the urban environment via inhalation, ingestion, or dermal contact of dust particles. This paper focuses on human health risk assessment of urban dust contaminated with potentially toxic metals. The levels, sources, and human health risks of nine potentially toxic metals (i.e., As, Cd, Cu, Cr, Ni, Pb, Co, Mn, and Zn) in 200 road dust samples from Rafsanjan area were investigated. Pollution level was assessed using the pollution index (PI) and geoaccumulation index (Igeo), and the health risk assessment was performed following the methodology described by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The mean concentrations of As, Cu, Pb, Cd, Cr, Ni, Zn, Co, and Mn in road dust were 105.3 ± 5.7, 791.4 ± 29.8, 123.1 ± 9.7, 28.4 ± 3.3, 3.1 ± 0.6, 18.4 ± 1.6, 252.6 ± 8.3, 16.5 ± 1.4, and 525.9 ± 21.0 mg kg−1, respectively. Thus, the concentrations of potentially toxic metals in road dust were higher than their corresponding natural background values, indicating that all studied potentially toxic metals were impacted by anthropogenic activities. The results of the current study are comparable to other studies conducted on road dust in other cities worldwide. Both of Igeo and PI decreased following order Cu > Mn > Pb > As > Zn > Cd > Ni > Cr > Co. Health risk assessment indicated that both of children and adults could be exposed to a potential increased risk of developing cancer over a lifetime from exposure to arsenic through ingestion of the dust samples. However, Pb ingestion can increase cancer risk in children.


Human health Cancer risk Noncarcinogenic risk Rafsanjan Road dust 





















pollution index


geoaccumulation index


contamination degree


US Environmental Protection Agency


inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry


hazard quotient


carcinogenic risk


total cancer risk


health risk assessment


International Agency for Research on Cancer


World Health Organization


average daily dose


geography information system


industrial town


ceramic factory


Sarcheshmeh copper complex


Rafsanjan city



The authors thank Prof. Mohammad Tavakoli, medical physiologist and epidemiologist in Rafsanjan Medical University, and additionally Amin heydariyan and Moein Hassani, as master students, for their sampling and lab work. Authors also notice that this research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. The authors also express their thanks in advance to the reviewers for their constructive comments that helped in improving the paper.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Agriculture, Soil Science DepartmentBu-Ali Sina UniversityHamedanIran
  2. 2.Center for Environmental Nanoscience and Risk, Arnold School of Public HealthUniversity South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.Civil Engineering Department, College of EngineeringVali-e-Asr Rafsanjan UniversityRafsanjanIran

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