Human health risk assessment of potentially toxic elements (PTEs) from environmental matrices

Nwabueze Elom

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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In assessing human health risk of potentially toxic elements (PTEs), it is not the concentration of PTEs in the environmental matrices that is of greatest concern but the fraction that is absorbed into the body via the exposure pathways. The determination of this fraction (i.e. the bioaccessible fraction) through the application of bioaccessibility protocols is the focus of this work. The study investigated human health risk of PTEs (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Pb, Mn, Ni and Zn) from oral ingestion of soil / dust, inhalation of urban street dust and air-borne dust (PM10).
To assess health risk via oral ingestion of soil and dust, total PTEs were determined in twenty nine soil samples collected from children’s playing fields and ninety urban street dusts collected from six cities. Analysis of total PTE content in these samples via ICP-MS revealed high Pb concentrations (> 450 mg/kg) in 3 playground soils and 32 urban street dusts. Detailed quantitative risk assessment (DQRA) carried out in the playgrounds showed that no significant possibility of significant harm exist in the playgrounds. The concentration of Pb from a particular dust sample based on 50 mg/day ingestion rate that a child might possibly ingest to reach the estimated tolerable daily intake was calculated and it exceeded the tolerable daily intake for oral ingestion in 4 cities. The bioaccessible PTEs were determined both in the soil and dust samples using the Unified BARGE method and the result showed that in all the samples, the PTEs solubilised more in the gastric phase than in the intestinal phase.
A new method has been developed; simulated epithelial lung fluid (SELF) and was used to assess the respiratory bioaccessibility of Pb from inhalable urban dust (<10 µm). Low bioaccessibility (<10 %) was recorded in all the samples analysed.
Original languageEnglish
  • Dean, John, Supervisor
  • Entwistle, Jane, Supervisor
  • Deary, Michael, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Publication statusIn preparation - 2012


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