Atmospheric dust characterisation in the mining district of Cartagena-La Unión, Spain: Air quality and health risks assessment

  • Isalyne Blondet /
  • Eva Schreck /
  • Jérôme Viers /
  • Sandra Casas /
  • I. Jubany /
  • Neus Bahí /
  • C. Zouiten /
  • Grégory Dufréchou /
  • Rémi Freydier /
  • Corinne Galy-Lacaux /
  • Silvia Martínez-Martínez /
  • A. Faz /
  • Martin Soriano-Disla /
  • Jose A. Acosta /
  • José Darrozes
Journal ar
Science of the Total Environment
  • Volumen: 693
  • Fecha: 25 November 2019
  • ISSN: 18791026 00489697
  • Source Type: Journal
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.07.302
  • Document Type: Article
  • Publisher: Elsevier B.V.
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.Nowadays, air pollution has a major impact on the environment and human health. Owen gauges allow the sampling of atmospheric depositions in polluted sites for further characterisation. This paper shows the study of the air particles of an old mining zone in Cartagena-La Unión (South-east of Spain) in order to quantify their potential risk on human health. There were 4 strategic sites monitored: the main mining tailing (Avenque), the urban area (La Unión), an agricultural zone (formerly mining) and a site in the Mediterranean coast. Physico-chemical and mineralogical characterisation was applied to atmospheric fallouts. The granulometry revealed a dust particle size around 15 ¿m, with the coarsest particles in the urban area and the thinnest at the tailing site. XRD analyses showed the presence of quartz, carbonates, sulphides and sulphates. Observations with SEM-EDX confirmed chemical spectra and allowed us to classify the particles into well-crystallised minerals and heterogeneous dusts. Total metal content determination was carried out by ICP-MS analyses and results showed Zn, Pb, As and Cd fluxes (respectively 2549, 1275, 68 and 7 ¿g·m¿2·d¿1) exceeding the limit values set by European legislations in the mining area. The fluxes of Zn, Pb and As also exceed these standards in the urban area whereas the coastal zone only exceeds the thresholds in the case of As. Inhalation health risk (defined by US EPA, 2009) was quantified in the sites using total and bioaccessible metal contents of the dusts. Risk calculations using total metal content considering a residential scenario showed acceptable risk for all sites except for the mining tailing which presented non-acceptable cancer and hazard risk mainly due to the total As and Pb contents. When considering the bioaccessible fraction of As and Pb, the risk diminished to acceptable values, demonstrating the overestimation produced when using total metal contents.

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