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Chemical content and source apportionment of 36 heavy metal analysis and health risk assessment in aerosol of Beijing

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The concentration levels of 36 airborne heavy metals and atmospheric radioactivity in total suspended particulate (TSP) samples were measured to investigate the chemical characteristics, potential sources of aerosols, and health risk in Beijing, China, from September 2016 to September 2017. The TSP concentrations varied from 6.93 to 469.18 μg/m3, with a median of 133.97 μg/m3. The order for the mean concentrations of heavy metals, known as hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), was as follows: Mn > Pb > As > Cr > Ni > Se > Cd > Co > Sb > Hg > Be; Non-Designated HAPs Metals: Ca > Fe > Mg > Al > K > Na > Zn > P > Ba > Ti > Cu > Sr > B > Sn > I > V > Rb > Ce > Mo > Cs > Th > Ag > U > Pt. The median concentration of As was higher than China air quality standard (6 ng/m3). The gross α and β concentration levels in aerosols were (1.84 ± 1.59) mBg/m3 and (1.15 ± 0.85) mBg/m3, respectively. The enrichment factor values of Cu, Ba, B, Ce, Tl, Cs, Pb, As, Cd, Sb, Hg, Fe, Zn, Sn, I, Mo, and Ag were higher than 10, which indicated enriched results from anthropogenic sources. Pb, As, and Cd are considered to originate from multiple sources; fireworks released Ba during China spring festival; Fe, Ce, and Cs may come from stable emissions such as industrial gases. The health risks from anthropogenic metals via inhalation, ingestion, and dermal pathway were estimated on the basis of health quotient as well as the results indicated that children faced the higher risk than adults during the research period. For adults, the health risk posed by heavy metals in atmospheric particles was below the acceptable level.

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This work was supported by the Special Fund for Scientific Research Projects of Beijing Municipal Center for Disease Prevention and Control/Beijing Research Center for Preventive Medicine (no. 2016-BJYJ-18) and Japan China Sasakawa Medical Fellowship.

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Conceptualization, funding acquisition, and supervision, Y. Z. M; formal analysis, investigation, methodology, and writing, L. M. C.; methodology and resources, Z. N. W. and P. H.; review and editing, Y. T.; resources, Y. Z. M., Y. L., B. B., H. Z., Y. X. K., W. J. Z., J. Y., S. G. Z., Q. H. M., H. F. W., and H. W.; all authors helped approve the final manuscript with discussions.

Correspondence to Yongzhong Ma.

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Cui, L., Wu, Z., Han, P. et al. Chemical content and source apportionment of 36 heavy metal analysis and health risk assessment in aerosol of Beijing. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-019-06427-w

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  • Heavy metals,
  • Atmospheric radioactivity,
  • Enrichment factor,
  • Hazard quotient