Airborne lead levels in the Korean peninsula: characterisation of temporal and spatial patterns and cancer risk analysis
This study collected long-term airborne lead concentrations in the Korean peninsula and analysed their temporal, spatial, and cancer risk characterisation. Approximately, 12,000 airborne samples of total suspended particulate (TSP) were collected from 30 ambient air monitoring stations in inland (Daegu, Daejeon, Gwangju, and Seoul) cities and portal cities (Incheon, Busan, and Ulsan) over a period of 7 years (2004-2010). High volume air samplers were employed to collect daily TSP samples during the second week of the consecutive months throughout the entire study period. The concentrations of Pb extracted from the TSP samples were analysed using either inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission or flame atomic absorption spectrometry. The long-term high mean Pb concentrations were observed in the port cities including Incheon (88 ( 18 ng/m3), Ulsan (61 ( 7 ng/m3), and Busan (58 ( 6 ng/m3). In the temporal analysis, seasonal mean Pb levels were relatively higher in winter and spring than those in summer and fall. In the spatial analysis, the mean Pb levels in spring, winter, and fall from Incheon, which showed the highest seasonal concentrations except summer, were 110 ( 19, 101 ( 18, and 76 ( 23 ng/m3, respectively. In summer, the highest seasonal mean Pb level was observed in the largest industrial city and the second port city, Ulsan (78 ( 15 ng/m3), followed by Incheon (65( 13 ng/m3). The estimated excess cancer risk analysis showed that inhalation of Pb could result in cancer for one or two persons per million of population in the Korean peninsula.