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Plastic Additives in Ambient Fine Particulate Matter in the Pearl River Delta, China: High-Throughput Characterization and Health Implications

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posted on 12.03.2021, 21:04 authored by Xiaotu Liu, Xiaowen Zeng, Guanghui Dong, Marta Venier, Qitong Xie, Mo Yang, Qizhen Wu, Fanrong Zhao, Da Chen
Elucidation of the chemical components of airborne fine particulate matter (PM2.5) facilitates the characterization of atmospheric contamination sources and associated human exposure risks. In the present study, we employed a high-throughput analytical approach to investigate the abundance and distribution of 163 plastic additives in ambient PM2.5 collected from 94 different sites across the Pearl River Delta region, China. These chemicals are from six categories, including organophosphate esters (OPEs), phthalate esters (PAEs), PAE replacements, bisphenol analogues, UV stabilizers, and antioxidants. Ninety-three of them exhibited a detection frequency greater than 50% in PM2.5, while the combined concentrations of target plastic additives ranged from 610 to 49,400 μg/g (median: 3500 μg/g) across sites. By category, concentrations of PAEs (median: 2710 μg/g) were one to three orders of magnitude greater than those of other groups, followed by PAE replacements (540 μg/g) and OPEs (76.2 μg/g). Chemical-dependent exposure risks to PM2.5-bound plastic additives were characterized via the estimated daily intake and hazard quotient (HQ) approaches, which resulted in two different risk prioritization systems. Although the HQ approach suggested no or very low health concerns when considering individual chemicals, the complexity of co-concurrent chemicals in PM2.5 raises the concern on potential health risks from exposure to airborne particles and a cocktail of chemical components.

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