Chemical composition and source apportionment of ambient, household, and personal exposures to PM2.5 in communities using biomass stoves in rural China

Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) has health effects that may depend on its sources and chemical composition. Few studies have quantified the composition of personal and area PM2.5 in rural settings over the same time period. Yet, this information would shed important light on the sources influencing personal PM2.5 exposures. This study investigated the sources and chemical composition of 40 personal exposure, 40 household, and 36 ambient PM2.5 samples collected in the non-heating and heating seasons in rural southwestern China. Chemical analysis included black carbon (BC), water-soluble components (ions, organic carbon), elements, and organic tracers. Source apportionment was conducted using organic tracer concentrations in a Chemical Mass Balance model. Biomass burning was the largest identified PM2.5 source contributor to household (average, SD: 48?±?11%) and exposures (31?±?6%) in both seasons, and ambient PM2.5 in winter (20?±?4%). Food cooking also contributed to household and personal PM, reaching approximately half of the biomass contributions. Secondary inorganic aerosol was the major identified source in summertime ambient PM2.5 (32?±?14%), but was present in all samples (summer: 10?±?3% [household], 13?±?6% [exposures]; winter: 18?±?2% [ambient], 7?±?2% [household], 8?±?2% [exposures]). Dust concentrations and fractional contribution to total PM2.5 were higher in summer exposure samples (7?±?4%) than in ambient or household samples (6?±?1% and 2?±?1%, respectively). Indoor sources comprised up to one-fifth of ambient PM2.5, and outdoor sources (vehicles, secondary aerosols) contributed up to 15% of household PM2.5. While household sources were the main contributors to PM2.5 exposures in terms of mass, inorganic components of personal exposures differed from household samples. Based on these findings, health-focused initiatives to reduce harmful PM2.5 exposures may consider a coordinated approach to address both indoor and outdoor PM2.5 source contributors.

Authors: Lai AM, Carter E, Shan M, Ni K, Clark S, Ezzati M, Wiedinmyer C, Yang X, Baumgartner J, Schauer JJ. ; Full Source: Science of the Total Environ. 2018 Jul 24; 646:309-319. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.07.322. [Epub ahead of print]