Trace element contents in fine particulate matter (PM<inf>2.5</inf>) in urban school microenvironments near a contaminated beach with mine tailings, Chañaral, Chile

Stephanie Mesías Monsalve, Leonardo Martínez, Karla Yohannessen Vásquez, Sergio Alvarado Orellana, José Klarián Vergara, Miguel Martín Mateo, Rogelio Costilla Salazar, Mauricio Fuentes Alburquenque, Dante D. Cáceres Lillo

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    © 2017, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Air quality in schools is an important public health issue because children spend a considerable part of their daily life in classrooms. Particulate size and chemical composition has been associated with negative health effects. We studied levels of trace element concentrations in fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in indoor versus outdoor school settings from six schools in Chañaral, a coastal city with a beach severely polluted with mine tailings. Concentrations of trace elements were measured on two consecutive days during the summer and winter of 2012 and 2013 and determined using X-ray fluorescence. Source apportionment and element enrichment were measured using principal components analysis and enrichment factors. Trace elements were higher in indoor school spaces, especially in classrooms compared with outdoor environments. The most abundant elements were Na, Cl, S, Ca, Fe, K, Mn, Ti, and Si, associated with earth’s crust. Conversely, an extremely high enrichment factor was determined for Cu, Zn, Ni and Cr; heavy metals associated with systemic and carcinogenic risk effects, whose probably origin sources are industrial and mining activities. These results suggest that the main source of trace elements in PM2.5 from these school microenvironments is a mixture of dust contaminated with mine tailings and marine aerosols. Policymakers should prioritize environmental management changes to minimize further environmental damage and its direct impact on the health of children exposed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1077-1091
    JournalEnvironmental Geochemistry and Health
    Volume40
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

    Keywords

    • Heavy metals
    • Mine tailings
    • Particulate matter
    • Schools
    • Trace elements

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