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Atmospheric Heavy Metals Pollution: Exposure and Prevention Policies in Mediterranean Basin

Part of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Series C: Environmental Security book series (NAPSC,volume 1)

Abstract

Atmospheric heavy metals pollution is one of the most serious problems facing humanity and other life forms on our planet today. Industrial pollution, soil erosion, deforestation, rapid industrialization, urbanization, and land degradation are all worsening problems. The release of toxins from plants and industrial institutions is very high for the per capita allowance. In some Mediterranean countries, the combustion of wood or agricultural waste is another major source. Present information concerning the sources, emission, limits and inputs of heavy metals is rather limited in the developing countries. The situation in developing countries (North African and Middle East) is mixed. In these countries, however, and in some economies in transition (including Eastern Europe) traffic is becoming the problem. This is a challenge to city planning in these countries, where the long repressed wishes for private automobiles are difficult to reconcile with environmental protection. These countries are seeking to expand their economic activities; consideration for environmental conservation often receives a low priority. In addition, approaches used in industrialized countries often cannot be applied directly in developing ones. For any industry, the fate of the air quality is far down the list beyond their ability to make a profit. Exposure assessment studies in the developing world are important. Differences among measuring methods and a lack of strict quality control in carrying out exposure assessment make it difficult to generalize and compare findings between studies. Toxic chemicals can be transported with differing levels of efficiency to the target host depending upon the transport pathways. Exposure may occur directly by ingestion, inhalation, or dermal contact. The relative contribution of different pathways must be assessed by examining the nature of human activities which may be expected in particular exposure settings. This chapter summarizes some of the basic principles and uses of environmental risk assessment. Exposure assessment requires the integration of environmental quality data with an estimate of the rate of human contact with contaminated media. This aspect of risk assessment should rely heavily on local data, since it allows an assessment of how particular local conditions and cultural practices affect risk potential. A number of site-specific factors must first be evaluated, including (1) the characteristics and quantification of industrial pollutants, (2) the potential for release to the environment, (3) the sensitivity of the particular environment, (4) the proximity of these chemicals to humans, and (5) its potential effect on human health.

Keywords

  • Air pollution
  • particulate matter
  • heavy metals
  • Mediterranean countries
  • exposure
  • preventative strategies

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Hassanien, M.A. (2011). Atmospheric Heavy Metals Pollution: Exposure and Prevention Policies in Mediterranean Basin. In: Simeonov, L., Kochubovski, M., Simeonova, B. (eds) Environmental Heavy Metal Pollution and Effects on Child Mental Development. NATO Science for Peace and Security Series C: Environmental Security, vol 1. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-0253-0_17

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