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Health risk assessment associated with heavy metals through fractioned dust from coal and chromite mines in Pakistan

Abstract

Heavy metals exposure through dust emissions pose a health risk to workers in coal and chromite mines. The processes involved in mining are noteworthy for the generation of heavy metal-contaminated dust which causes human health implications, especially to the workers that are mainly exposed to such toxins. This study determined pollution levels in coal and chromite mines and calculated the health risk of workers being exposed to heavy metal-contaminated dust. We used fractioned dust with particle sizes < 75, 75–106, and 107–150 µm to assess the pollution levels, anthropogenic impacts, geo-accumulation index, and enrichment factor for selected coal and chromite mines. Through a probabilistic approach, Monte Carlo simulations were used to determine health risks. The findings revealed that the smallest size dust fraction (< 75 μm) contained the highest metal concentrations. Ingestion was considered a prominent exposure route contributing to health risk. In the dust fraction (< 75 μm), chromite mines exhibited the highest Cr (340.6 mg/kg) and lowest Cd (8.4 mg/kg) concentrations. In coal mines, Mn (284.9 mg/kg) and Cd (2.1 mg/kg) were measured highest and lowest, respectively. Pollution assessment revealed dust to be moderately polluted. Health risk assessment showed that Cr in chromite mines exhibited a mean HI value of 1.16E + 00 that was higher than the safe level (HI > 1) having the potential to cause significant health risk to workers. In coal mines, the estimated total HI was 6E-1. Sensitivity analysis revealed concentration and exposure time to be the most influential parameters contributing to risk. Therefore, governmental and nongovernmental organizations must develop dust pollution control guidelines and mitigation measures to safeguard the health of mineworkers by limiting heavy metal exposure.

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Data availability

All the supporting information is including in supplementary information. Any additional information or data can be provided upon request.

Abbreviations

EF:

Enrichment factor

ADD:

Average daily dose

CR:

Cancer risk

Igeo:

Geo-accumulation index

HI:

Hazard index

HQ:

Hazard quotient

USEPA:

United States Environmental Protection Agency

HMs:

Heavy metals

RfD:

Reference dose

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Funding

Current study did not receive any specific funding from an external source and was funded by the Department of Environmental Sciences, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.

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ZS: Contributed to writing original draft, data curation, analysis. MYAR: Contributed to study design, writing, review, and editing. HKK: Contributed to review and editing. RNM: Contributed to conceptualization, supervision, study design, and review.

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Correspondence to Riffat Naseem Malik.

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Sultana, Z., Rehman, M.Y.A., Khan, H.K. et al. Health risk assessment associated with heavy metals through fractioned dust from coal and chromite mines in Pakistan. Environ Geochem Health (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10653-022-01285-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10653-022-01285-x

Keywords

  • Dust exposure
  • Heavy metals
  • Mining
  • Coal
  • Chromite
  • Health risk assessment