Effects of ambient PM 2.5 and particle-bound metals on the healthy residents living near an electric arc furnace: A community-based study


Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emitted from electric arc furnaces (EAFs) poses health concerns. However, little research has been done on the impact of EAF on the health of community residents. This cross-sectional study conducted a PM2.5 exposure assessment and health examination of community residents living near an EAF. A total of 965 residents aged 40-90 years were recruited. The residents’ exposure to PM2.5 was categorized according to the distance of their residence from the EAFs (<500, 500-1000, 1000-1500, 1500-2000, and > 2000 m). Average ambient PM2.5 concentrations were estimated using a hybrid kriging/land-use regression (LUR) model. In addition, we selected two air-sampling sites to monitor the 2-year levels of PM2.5 and particle-bound metals. A spot urine sample and blood samples were collected and ten heavy metal concentrations in the blood were analyzed. Inflammation- and oxidative stress-related biomarkers were measured. The associations between environmental factors and a biochemical examination were estimated using a generalized linear model. Active air sampling and hybrid kriging/LUR model simulation indicated increased levels of PM2.5 near the EAF. The metal concentrations in PM2.5 included Fe, Pb, Mn, Ni, As, Cu, Ni, Zn, and Al, which also significantly increased near the EAF. PM2.5 levels were significantly associated with an increased total cholesterol-high-density lipoprotein (TC/HDL) ratio. High levels of PM2.5 and malondialdehyde were associated with a 1.72-fold increased risk of TC/HDL ratio ? 4 (95% CI: 1.12-2.65) after adjusting for potential confounding factors. Blood Pb levels were significantly associated with increased systolic and diastolic blood pressure and decreased estimated glomerular filtration rate but negatively associated with distance from the EAF. The results show that people living near EAFs should pay more attention to adverse health problems, including atherogenic dyslipidemia, hypertension, and chronic kidney disease associated with exposure to PM2.5 and particle-bound metals.

Authors: Chung CJ, Wu CD, Hwang BF, Wu CC, Huang PH, Ho CT, Hsu HT
; Full Source: The science of the total environment. 2020 Apr 20;728:138799. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138799. [Epub ahead of print]