Publications by authors named "Xavier Querol"

167 Publications

Associations between sources of particle number and mortality in four European cities.

Environ Int 2021 Jun 4;155:106662. Epub 2021 Jun 4.

MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, Environmental Research Group, King's College London, 150 Stamford Street, London SE1 9NH, UK; Environmental Research Group, MRC Centre for Environment & Health, School of Public Health, Imperial College London, 10th Floor, Michael Uren Building, White City Campus, London W12 7TA, UK.

Background: The evidence on the association between ultrafine (UFP) particles and mortality is still inconsistent. Moreover, health effects of specific UFP sources have not been explored. We assessed the impact of UFP sources on daily mortality in Barcelona, Helsinki, London, and Zurich.

Methods: UFP sources were previously identified and quantified for the four cities: daily contributions of photonucleation, two traffic sources (fresh traffic and urban, with size mode around 30 nm and 70 nm, respectively), and secondary aerosols were obtained from data from an urban background station. Different periods were investigated in each city: Barcelona 2013-2016, Helsinki 2009-2016, London 2010-2016, and Zurich 2011-2014. The associations between total particle number concentrations (PNC) and UFP sources and daily (natural, cardiovascular [CVD], and respiratory) mortality were investigated using city-specific generalized linear models (GLM) with quasi-Poisson regression.

Results: We found inconsistent results across cities, sources, and lags for associations with natural, CVD, and respiratory mortality. Increased risk was observed for total PNC and natural mortality in Helsinki (lag 2; 1.3% [0.07%, 2.5%]), CVD mortality in Barcelona (lag 1; 3.7% [0.17%, 7.4%]) and Zurich (lag 0; 3.8% [0.31%, 7.4%]), and respiratory mortality in London (lag 3; 2.6% [0.84%, 4.45%]) and Zurich (lag 1; 9.4% [1.0%, 17.9%]). A similar pattern of associations between health outcomes and total PNC was followed by the fresh traffic source, for which we also found the same associations and lags as for total PNC. The urban source (mostly aged traffic) was associated with respiratory mortality in Zurich (lag 1; 12.5% [1.7%, 24.2%]) and London (lag 3; 2.4% [0.90%, 4.0%]) while the secondary source was associated with respiratory mortality in Zurich (lag 1: 12.0% [0.63%, 24.5%]) and Helsinki (4.7% [0.11%, 9.5%]). Reduced risk for the photonucleation source was observed for respiratory mortality in Barcelona (lag 2, -8.6% [-14.5%, -2.4%]) and for CVD mortality in Helsinki, as this source is present only in clean atmospheres (lag 1, -1.48 [-2.75, -0.21]).

Conclusions: We found inconsistent results across cities, sources and lags for associations with natural, CVD, and respiratory mortality.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2021.106662DOI Listing
June 2021

Lessons from the COVID-19 air pollution decrease in Spain: Now what?

Sci Total Environ 2021 Jul 16;779:146380. Epub 2021 Mar 16.

D.G. Calidad y Evaluación Ambiental del Ministerio de Transición Ecológica y Reto Demográfico, Madrid 28071, Spain.

We offer an overview of the COVID-19 -driven air quality changes across 11 metropolises in Spain with the focus on lessons learned on how continuing abating pollution. Traffic flow decreased by up to 80% during the lockdown and remained relatively low during the full relaxation (June and July). After the lockdown a significant shift from public transport to private vehicles (+21% in Barcelona) persisted due to the pervasive fear that using public transport might increase the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, which need to be reverted as soon as possible. NO levels fell below 50% of the WHO annual air quality guidelines (WHOAQGs), but those of PM were reduced less than expected due to the lower contributions from traffic, increased contributions from agricultural and domestic biomass burning, or meteorological conditions favoring high secondary aerosol formation yields. Even during the lockdown, the annual PM WHOAQG was exceeded in cities within the NE and E regions with high NH emissions from farming and agriculture. Decreases in PM levels were greater than in PM due to reduced emissions from road dust, vehicle wear, and construction/demolition. Averaged O daily maximum 8-h (8hDM) experienced a generalized decrease in the rural receptor sites in the relaxation (June-July) with -20% reduced mobility. For urban areas O 8hDM responses were heterogeneous, with increases or decreases depending on the period and location. Thus, after canceling out the effect of meteorology, 5 out of 11 cities experienced O decreases during the lockdown, while the remaining 6 either did not experience relevant reductions or increased. During the relaxation period and coinciding with the growing O season (June-July), most cities experienced decreases. However, the O WHOAQG was still exceeded during the lockdown and full relaxation periods in several cities. For secondary pollutants, such as O and PM, further chemical and dispersion modeling along with source apportionment techniques to identify major precursor reduction targets are required to evaluate their abatement potential.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.146380DOI Listing
July 2021

Short-term effect of air pollution on attention function in adolescents (ATENC!Ó): A randomized controlled trial in high schools in Barcelona, Spain.

Environ Int 2021 May 14;156:106614. Epub 2021 May 14.

Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), Barcelona, Spain; Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain; CIBER Epidemiología y Salud Pública, Madrid, Spain. Electronic address:

Background: The recent evidence of the short-term impact of air pollution on youth cognitive functions is based primarily on observational studies.

Objectives: We conducted a randomized controlled trial to assess whether purifying the air of the classrooms produced short-term changes in attention processes of adolescents.

Methods: We recruited a total of 2,123 adolescents (13-16 years old) in 33 high schools in Barcelona metropolitan area (Spain). In each school, adolescents from each class were randomly split into two equal-sized groups and assigned to two different classrooms. A set of two air cleaner devices with the same appearance (one recirculating and filtrating the air and the other only recirculating the air) was used. Each one of the devices was placed at random at one of the two classrooms. Students were masked to intervention allocation and had to complete several computerized activities for 1.5 h, including an attention test (Flanker task) to be performed at baseline and at the end of the intervention. The response speed consistency, expressed as hit reaction time standard error (HRT-SE, in ms), was measured as the primary outcome. Analyses were conducted using conditional linear regressions with classroom as strata, adjusted for variables that may differ from one class to another such as temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide concentration.

Results: Average levels of PM and black carbon throughout the 1.5 h of experiment were 89% and 87%, respectively, lower in the classrooms with air cleaner than in the control classrooms. No differences were found in the median of HRT-SE between classrooms with cleaned air and normal air (percent change: 1.37%, 95% confidence interval: -2.81%, 5.56%). Sensitivity analyses with secondary attention outcomes resulted in similar findings.

Conclusions: Cleaning the air of a classroom to reduce exposure to air pollutants for 1.5 h did not have an impact on the attention function of adolescents. Still, in light of previous evidence suggesting an association between air pollution and attention, further experimental studies should explore other short-term timescales of exposure and age ranges.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2021.106614DOI Listing
May 2021

The influence of COVID-19 preventive measures on the air quality in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates).

Air Qual Atmos Health 2021 Apr 4:1-9. Epub 2021 Apr 4.

Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD), Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The preventive and cautionary measures taken by the UAE and Abu Dhabi governments to reduce the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and promote social distancing have led to a reduction of mobility and a modification of economic and social activities. This paper provides statistical analysis of the air quality data monitored by the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) during the first 10 months of 2020, comparing the different stages of the preventive measures. Ground monitoring data is compared with satellite images and mobility indicators. The study shows a drastic decrease during lockdown in the concentration of the gaseous pollutants analysed (NO, SO, CO, and CH) that aligns with the results reported in other international cities and metropolitan areas. However, particulate matter (PM and PM) averaged concentrations followed a markedly different trend from the gaseous pollutants, indicating a larger influence from natural events (sand and dust storms) and other anthropogenic sources. The ozone (O) levels increased during the lockdown, showing the complexity of O formation. The end of lockdown led to an increase of the mobility and the air pollution; however, air pollutant concentrations remained in lower levels than during the same period of 2019. The results in this study show the large impact of human activities on the quality of air and present an opportunity for policymakers and decision-makers to design stimulus packages to overcome the economic slow-down, with strategies to accelerate the transition to resilient, low-emission economies and societies more connected to the nature that protect human health and the environment.

Supplementary Information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s11869-021-01000-2.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11869-021-01000-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8019479PMC
April 2021

Short-term health effects from outdoor exposure to biomass burning emissions: A review.

Sci Total Environ 2021 Aug 26;781:146739. Epub 2021 Mar 26.

Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research, IDAEA-CSIC, Barcelona 08034, Spain.

Biomass burning (BB) including forest, bush, prescribed fires, agricultural fires, residential wood combustion, and power generation has long been known to affect climate, air quality and human health. With this work we supply a systematic review on the health effects of BB emissions in the framework of the WHO activities on air pollution. We performed a literature search of online databases (PubMed, ISI, and Scopus) from year 1980 up to 2020. A total of 81 papers were considered as relevant for mortality and morbidity effects. High risk of bias was related with poor estimation of BB exposure and lack of adjustment for important confounders. PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations originating from BB were associated with all-cause mortality: the meta-analytical estimate was equal to 1.31% (95% CI 0.71, 1.71) and 1.92% (95% CI -1.19, 5.03) increased mortality per each 10 μg m increase of PM10 and PM2.5, respectively. Regarding cardiovascular mortality 8 studies reported quantitative estimates. For smoky days and for each 10 μg m increase in PM2.5 concentrations, the risk of cardiovascular mortality increased by 4.45% (95% CI 0.96, 7.95) and by 3.30% (95% CI -1.97, 8.57), respectively. Fourteen studies evaluated whether respiratory morbidity was adversely related to PM2.5 (9 studies) or PM10 (5 studies) originating from BB. All found positive associations. The pooled effect estimates were 4.10% (95% CI 2.86, 5.34) and 4.83% (95% CI 0.06, 9.60) increased risk of total respiratory admissions/emergency visits, per 10 μg m increases in PM2.5 and PM10, respectively. Regarding cardiovascular morbidity, sixteen studies evaluated whether this was adversely related to PM2.5 (10 studies) or PM10 (6 studies) originating from BB. They found both positive and negative results, with summary estimates equal to 3.68% (95% CI -1.73, 9.09) and 0.93% (95% CI -0.18, 2.05) increased risk of total cardiovascular admissions/emergency visits, per 10 μg m increases in PM2.5 and PM10, respectively. To conclude, a significant number of studies indicate that BB exposure is associated with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality and respiratory morbidity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.146739DOI Listing
August 2021

Source contribution and origin of PM10 and arsenic in a complex industrial region (Huelva, SW Spain).

Environ Pollut 2021 Apr 16;274:116268. Epub 2020 Dec 16.

Associate Unit CSIC-University of Huelva "Atmospheric Pollution", Center for Research in Sustainable Chemistry - CIQSO, University of Huelva, E21071 Huelva, Spain; Department of Earth Science, Faculty of Experimental Sciences, University of Huelva, Campus El Carmen s/n, 21071 Huelva, Spain.

Air pollution coming from industrial activities is a matter of interest since their emissions can seriously affect to the human health of nearby populations. A more detailed study about industrial emissions is required in order to discriminate different activities contributing to pollutant sources. In this sense, gaseous pollutants (NO, SO and O) and PM10 levels has been studied in a complex industrial area in the southwest of Spain (La Rabida and the nearby city of Huelva) during the period 1996-2017. Hourly, daily, monthly and annual variations of PM10 and gaseous pollutants concentrations point to the industrial activity as the main SO source. Furthermore, traffic and resuspension emissions contribute to the NO and PM10 levels, respectively. Results from chemical composition of PM10 at both sites during the period 2015-2017 are characterized by high concentrations of the crustal components derived from natural and local resuspension. Arsenic is found to be the main geochemical anomaly at La Rabida (annual mean of 7 ng m), exceeding the European annual target of 6 ng m, which supposes a risk for the nearby population. An emission source from Cu-smelter has been identified in La Rabida and Huelva. A second source corresponding to emissions from polymetallic sulfides handling in a port area has been described for the first time in La Rabida. In addition, arsenic speciation results have identified three different As impacts scenarios as a function of the dominant wind direction, the SO episodes and the As extraction efficiency: impact of the Cu-smelter, impact of the bulk polymetallic sulfides and a mixed impact of both sources.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2020.116268DOI Listing
April 2021

Tracing surface and airborne SARS-CoV-2 RNA inside public buses and subway trains.

Environ Int 2021 02 9;147:106326. Epub 2020 Dec 9.

Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA), Spanish Research Council (CSIC), C/Jordi Girona 18-26, 08034 Barcelona, Spain.

Given the widespread concern but general lack of information over the possibility of SARS-CoV-2 infection in public transport, key issues such as passenger personal hygiene, efficient air circulation systems, and the effective disinfection of frequently touched surfaces need to be evaluated to educate the public and diminish the risk of viral transmission as we learn to live with the ongoing pandemic. In this context we report on a study involving the collection of 99 samples taken from inside Barcelona buses and subway trains in May to July 2020. From this sample group 82 (58 surface swabs, 9 air conditioning (a/c) filters, 3 a/c dust, 12 ambient air) were selected to be analysed by RT-PCR for traces of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Thirty of these selected samples showed evidence for one or more of 3 target RNA gene regions specific for this virus (IP2, IP4, E). Most (24) of these 30 samples showed positivity for only 1 of the 3 RNA targets, 4 samples yielded 2 targets, and 2 samples provided evidence for all 3 targets. RNA remnants were more common in surface swabs from support bars (23 out of 58) than in ambient air inside the vehicles (3 out of 12), with relatively higher concentrations of viral RNA fragments in buses rather than in trains. Whereas subway train a/c filters examined were all virus-free, 4 of the 9 bus a/c filter/dust samples yielded evidence for viral RNA. After nocturnal maintenance and cleaning most buses initially yielding positive results subsequently showed elimination of the RT-PCR signal, although signs of viral RNA remained in 4 of 13 initially positive samples. The presence of such remnant viral traces however does not demonstrate infectivity, which in the present study is considered unlikely given the fragmentary nature of the gene targets detected. Nevertheless, best practice demands that close attention to ventilation systems and regular vehicle disinfection in public transport worldwide need to be rigorously applied to be effective at eliminating traces of the virus throughout the vehicle, especially at times when COVID-19 cases are peaking. Additionally, infectivity tests should be implemented to evaluate the efficiency of disinfection procedures to complement the information resulting from RT-PCR analysis. Modelling the probability of infection whilst travelling in buses under different scenarios indicates that forced ventilation greatly reduces the risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2020.106326DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7723781PMC
February 2021

Evaluation of chemical stabilisation methods of coal-petcoke fly ash to reduce the mobility of Mo and Ni against environmental concerns.

Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 2021 Jan 26;208:111488. Epub 2020 Oct 26.

Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDÆA-CSIC), Spanish National Research Council, C/Jordi Girona 18-26, 08034 Barcelona, Spain.

Reducing the potential leaching of Mo and Ni from the fly ash (FA) of petroleum coke is an increasingly important issue as Asia and Europe's demand is expected to drastically intensify as continuing urbanisation and technological innovation demands ever more electricity. In the present study, we investigated coal combustion products (CCP) from a large coal-fired power station fed with a 56:44 coal/petroleum coke blend. Results revealed that leachable concentrations of Mo and Ni from FA were in the upper non-hazardous limit and in the inert limit, respectively (2003/33/EC). Whilst common prevention measures for Mo and Ni based on the adsorption capacity of boiler slag (BS), a mixture of BS: goethite, and jarosite, were considered insufficient to reduce the potential leaching of Mo into FA leachates, a novel chemical stabilisation method based on an aggregate product of portlandite and FA immobilised both Mo and Ni such that the resulting concentrations were below the limits established in the abovementioned 2003 EC Decision. Precipitation may be responsible for the fixation of Mo and Ni in the FA: portlandite aggregates as Ca(MoO) and NiMoO, respectively. The findings of this novel study support the use of this aggregate to reduce FA pollutants, which will be of particular interest to nations that remain largely coal/petroleum coke-dependant.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoenv.2020.111488DOI Listing
January 2021

Using miniaturised scanning mobility particle sizers to observe size distribution patterns of quasi-ultrafine aerosols inhaled during city commuting.

Environ Res 2020 12 19;191:109978. Epub 2020 Aug 19.

Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA-CSIC), Barcelona, 08034, Spain.

Portable miniaturised scanning mobility particle sizer (SMPS) instruments measuring atmospheric particles within the 10-241 nm size range were used to track particle number size distributions and concentrations during near-simultaneous pedestrian, bicycle, bus, car, tram and subway commuting journeys in Barcelona, Spain on 4th-6th July 2018. The majority of particles in this size range were <100 nm, with k-means cluster analysis identifying peaks at 15-22 nm, 30-40 nm, and 45-75 nm. Around 10-25% of the particles measured however were >100 nm (especially in the subway environment) and so lie outside the commonly defined range of "ultrafine" particles (UFP, or <100 nm particles). The study demonstrated in detail how personal exposure to quasi-UFP (QUFP, <241 nm), most of which present in the city streets are produced by road traffic, varies greatly depending on the transport mode and route chosen. Proximity to fresh traffic exhaust sources, such as in a car with open windows, on-road cycling, walking downwind of busy roads, or in a subway station contaminated by roadside air, enhances commuter exposure to particles <30 nm in size. In contrast, travelling inside air-conditioned bus or tram offers greater protection to the commuter from high concentrations of fresh exhaust. Ultrafine number size distributions in traffic-contaminated city air typically peak in the size range 30-70 nm, but they can be shifted to finer sizes not only by increased content of fresh proximal exhaust emissions but also by bursts of new particle formation (NPF) events in the city. One such afternoon photochemical nucleation NPF event was identified during our Barcelona study and recognised in different transport modes, including underground in the subway system. The integration of static urban background air monitoring station information with particle number concentration and size distribution data obtained from portable miniaturised SMPS instruments during commuting journeys opens new approaches to investigating city air quality by offering a level of detail not previously available.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2020.109978DOI Listing
December 2020

Chemistry of dry and wet atmospheric deposition over the Balearic Islands, NW Mediterranean: Source apportionment and African dust areas.

Sci Total Environ 2020 Dec 24;747:141187. Epub 2020 Jul 24.

ARAID-Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología - CSIC, Zaragoza 50059, Spain.

Wet and dry aerosol deposition samples were collected from September 2010 to August 2012 at a remote background site in the Mallorca Isle (Western Mediterranean). Ions and major and trace elements were determined in soluble and insoluble fractions. Temporal variations of chemical components are discussed and interpreted. The overall pattern associated to long-range-transport air masses is studied: Dry/Wet deposition ratios, charges and composition depend clearly on the meteorological scenario. E.g. Dry/Wet ratio is 1:1 when air comes from North Africa, in contrast to a 1:9 ratio under the mainland Europe influence. Moreover, an innovating source apportionment study was conducted integrating both dry and wet deposition samples. Six sources were revealed, including marine aerosols (32%); two different mineral factors, African dust (15%) and regional dust (12%); two anthropogenic factors, one related to road traffic (8%) and another to regional sources (17%); and a mixed factor having biomass burning emissions and others sources (17%). Temporal variations and influence from long-range-transport air masses are also investigated. Fertilization deposition trends have also been explored, observing nutrients settling, as well as nitrate and sulphate, due to their agricultural interest. An important peak during January-February 2012 is studied in depth. Having in mind the strong impact of African dust on the global deposition budget, the analysis of elemental ratios between key dust components was investigated in order to identify major source areas affecting Western Mediterranean: Western Sahara, Algeria-Hoggar Massif and Tunisia-Libya. Differences among these regions are evident. E.g. the impact of industrial emissions is well-detected under outbreaks from Tunisia-Libya, with relatively high content of Ni and Pb.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.141187DOI Listing
December 2020

Impact of mixing layer height variations on air pollutant concentrations and health in a European urban area: Madrid (Spain), a case study.

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 2020 Nov 21;27(33):41702-41716. Epub 2020 Jul 21.

Department of Environment - Joint Research Unit Atmospheric Pollution CIEMAT-CSIC, CIEMAT, Av. Complutense 40, 28040, Madrid, Spain.

The occurrence of local high-pollution episodes in densely populated urban areas, which have huge fleets of vehicles, is currently one of the most worrying problems associated with air pollution worldwide. Such episodes are produced under specific meteorological conditions, which favour the sudden increase of levels of air pollutants. This study has investigated the influence of the mixing layer height (MLH) on the concentration levels of atmospheric pollutants and daily mortality in Madrid, Spain, during the period 2011-2014. It may help to understand the causes and impact of local high-pollution episodes. MLH at midday over Madrid was daily estimated from meteorological radio soundings. Then, days with different MLH over this urban area were characterized by meteorological parameters registered at different levels of an instrumented tower and by composite sea level pressure maps, representing the associated synoptic meteorological scenarios. Next, statistically significant associations between MLH and levels of PM, PM, NO, NO, CO and ultra-fine particles number concentrations registered at representative monitoring stations were evaluated. Finally, associations between all-natural cause daily mortality in Madrid, MLH, and air pollutants were estimated using conditional Poisson regression models. The reduction of MLH to values below 482 m above-ground level under strong atmospheric stagnation conditions was accompanied by a statistically significant increase in levels of NO, NO, CO, PM and ultra-fine particle number concentrations at urban-traffic and suburban monitoring sites. The decrease of the MLH was also associated to a linear increase of the daily number of exceedances of the UE NO hourly limit value (200 μg/m) and levels of air pollutants at hotspot urban-traffic monitoring stations. Also, a statistically significant association of the MLH with all-natural cause daily mortality was obtained. When the MLH increased by 830 m, the risk of mortality decreased by 2.5% the same day and by 3.3% the next day, when African dust episodic days were excluded. They were also higher in absolute terms than the increases in risk of mortality that were determined for the exposition to any other air pollutant. Our results suggest that when the prediction models foresee values of MLH below 482 m above-ground level in Madrid, the evolution of high-contamination episodes will be very favourable. Therefore, short-term policy measures will have to be implemented to reduce NO, NO, CO, PM and ultra-fine particle emissions from anthropogenic sources in this southern European urban location.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-10146-yDOI Listing
November 2020

Mineralogy, geochemistry and toxicity of size-segregated respirable deposited dust in underground coal mines.

J Hazard Mater 2020 11 25;399:122935. Epub 2020 May 25.

Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA-CSIC), 08034 Barcelona, Spain; Key Laboratory of Tectonics and Petroleum Resources, China University of Geosciences, Ministry of Education, Wuhan, 430074, China.

We focus on a comparison of the geochemistry and mineralogy patterns found in coal, deposited dust (DD), respirable deposited dust (RDD) and inhalable suspended dust (PM10) from a number of underground mines located in China, with an emphasis on potential occupational health relevance. After obtaining the RDD from DD, a toxicological analysis (oxidative potential, OP) was carried out and compared with their geochemical patterns. The results demonstrate: i) a dependence of RDD/DD on the moisture content for high rank coals that does not exist for low rank coals; ii) RDD enrichment in a number of minerals and/or elements related to the parent coal, the wear on mining machinery, lime gunited walls and acid mine drainage; and iii) the geochemical patterns of RDD obtained from DD can be compared with PM10 with relatively good agreement, demonstrating that the characterization of DD and RDD can be used as a proxy to help evaluate the geochemical patterns of suspended PM10. With regards to the toxicological properties of RDD, the Fe content and other by-products of pyrite oxidation, as well as that of anatase, along with Si, Mn and Ba, and particle size (among others), were highly correlated with Ascorbic Acid and/or Glutathione OP.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2020.122935DOI Listing
November 2020

Loadings, chemical patterns and risks of inhalable road dust particles in an Atlantic city in the north of Portugal.

Sci Total Environ 2020 Oct 30;737:139596. Epub 2020 May 30.

Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research, Spanish Research Council, 08034 Barcelona, Spain.

Road dust resuspension has a significant contribution to the atmospheric particulate matter levels in urban areas, but loadings, emission factors, and chemical source profiles vary geographically, hampering the accuracy of emission inventories and source contribution estimates. Given the dearth of studies on the variability of road dust, in the present study, an in-situ resuspension chamber was used to collect PM samples from seven representative streets in Viana do Castelo, the northernmost coastal city in Portugal. PM samples were analysed for organic and elemental carbon by a thermo-optical technique, elemental composition by ICP-MS and ICP-AES, and organic constituents by GC-MS. Emission factors were estimated to be, on average, 340 and 41.2 mg veh km for cobbled and asphalt pavements, respectively. Organic carbon accounted for 5.56 ± 1.24% of the PM mass. Very low concentrations of PAHs and their alkylated congeners were detected, denoting a slight predominance of petrogenic compounds. Si, Al, Fe, Ca and K were the most abundant elements. The calculation of various geochemical indices (enrichment factor, geoaccumulation index, pollution index and potential ecological risk) showed that road dust was extremely enriched and contaminated by elements from tyre and brake wear (e.g. Sb, Sn, Cu, Bi and Zn), while lithophile elements showed no enrichment. For As, the geochemical and pollution indices reached their maximum in the street most influenced by agricultural activities. Sb, Cd, Cu and As can pose a very high ecological risk. Sb can be regarded as the pollutant of highest concern, since it represented 57% of the total ecological risk. Hazard indices higher than 1 for some anthropogenic elements indicate that non-carcinogenic effects may occur. Except for a street with more severe braking, the total carcinogenic risks can be considered insignificant.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.139596DOI Listing
October 2020

How can airborne transmission of COVID-19 indoors be minimised?

Environ Int 2020 09 27;142:105832. Epub 2020 May 27.

Aalto University, Finland.

During the rapid rise in COVID-19 illnesses and deaths globally, and notwithstanding recommended precautions, questions are voiced about routes of transmission for this pandemic disease. Inhaling small airborne droplets is probable as a third route of infection, in addition to more widely recognized transmission via larger respiratory droplets and direct contact with infected people or contaminated surfaces. While uncertainties remain regarding the relative contributions of the different transmission pathways, we argue that existing evidence is sufficiently strong to warrant engineering controls targeting airborne transmission as part of an overall strategy to limit infection risk indoors. Appropriate building engineering controls include sufficient and effective ventilation, possibly enhanced by particle filtration and air disinfection, avoiding air recirculation and avoiding overcrowding. Often, such measures can be easily implemented and without much cost, but if only they are recognised as significant in contributing to infection control goals. We believe that the use of engineering controls in public buildings, including hospitals, shops, offices, schools, kindergartens, libraries, restaurants, cruise ships, elevators, conference rooms or public transport, in parallel with effective application of other controls (including isolation and quarantine, social distancing and hand hygiene), would be an additional important measure globally to reduce the likelihood of transmission and thereby protect healthcare workers, patients and the general public.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2020.105832DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7250761PMC
September 2020

Organic Air Quality Markers of Indoor and Outdoor PM Aerosols in Primary Schools from Barcelona.

Int J Environ Res Public Health 2020 05 23;17(10). Epub 2020 May 23.

Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA-CSIC), Jordi Girona 18-26, 08034 Barcelona, Spain.

Airborne particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter smaller than 2.5 µg, PM was regularly sampled in classrooms (indoor) and playgrounds (outdoor) of primary schools from Barcelona. Three of these schools were located downtown and three in the periphery, representing areas with high and low traffic intensities. These aerosols were analyzed for organic molecular tracers and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to identify the main sources of these airborne particles and evaluate the air quality in the urban location of the schools. Traffic emissions were the main contributors of PAHs to the atmospheres in all schools, with higher average concentrations in those located downtown (1800-2700 pg/m) than in the periphery (760-1000 pg/m). The similarity of the indoor and outdoor concentrations of the PAH is consistent with a transfer of outdoor traffic emissions to the indoor classrooms. This observation was supported by the hopane and elemental carbon concentrations in PM, markers of motorized vehicles, that were correlated with PAHs. The concentrations of food-related markers, such as glucoses, sucrose, malic, azelaic and fatty acids, were correlated and were higher in the indoor atmospheres. These compounds were also correlated with plastic additives, such as phthalic acid and diisobutyl, dibutyl and dicyclohexyl phthalates. Clothing constituents, e.g., adipic acid, and fragrances, galaxolide and methyl dihydrojasmonate were also correlated with these indoor air compounds. All these organic tracers were correlated with the organic carbon of PM, which was present in higher concentrations in the indoor than in the outdoor atmospheres.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17103685DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7277704PMC
May 2020

Phosphate recovery from aqueous solution by K-zeolite synthesized from fly ash for subsequent valorisation as slow release fertilizer.

Sci Total Environ 2020 Aug 26;731:139002. Epub 2020 Apr 26.

Chemical Engineering Department, Barcelona Research Center for Multiscale Science and Engineering Escola d'Enginyeria de Barcelona Est (EEBE), Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC)-BarcelonaTECH, C/ Eduard Maristany 10-14, Campus Diagonal-Besòs, 08930 Barcelona, Spain.; CETaqua, Carretera d'Esplugues 75, 08940 Cornellà de Llobregat, Spain.

The sorption of phosphate by K-zeolites synthesized from fly ash (FA) by hydrothermal conversion is investigated in this study. The aim is the synthesis of Ca bearing K-zeolites to recover phosphate from urban and industrial wastewater effluents. The loaded zeolites are considered as a by-products rich in essential nutrients such K and P (KP1) with a potential use as slow release fertilizer. A number of synthesis conditions (temperature, KOH-solution/FA ratio, KOH concentration, and activation time) were applied on two FA samples (FA-TE and FA-LB) with similar glass content but different content of crystalline phases, to optimize the synthesis of a zeolitic sorbent suitable for the subsequent phosphate uptake. Merlinoite and W rich zeolitic products synthesized from FA-LB and FA-TE were found to have sorption properties for phosphate removal. A maximum phosphate sorption capacity of 250 mgP-PO/g and 142 mgP-PO/g for the zeolitic products selected (KP1-LB and KP1-TE, respectively) was achieved. The dominant phosphate sorption mechanism, in the pH range (6-9) of treated wastewater effluents, indicated that sorption proceeds via a diffusion-controlled process involving phosphate ions coupled with calcium supply dissolution from K-zeolitic products and subsequent formation of brushite (CaHPO 2HO(s)). The phosphate loaded sorbent containing a relatively soluble phosphate mineral is appropriate for its use as a synthetic slow release fertilizer. The simultaneous valorisation of fly ash waste and the P recovery from treated wastewaters effluents, (a nutrient with scarce natural resources and low supply) by obtaining a product with high potential for land restoration and agriculture will contribute to develop one example of circularity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.139002DOI Listing
August 2020

The past, present, and future of indoor air chemistry.

Indoor Air 2020 05;30(3):373-376

Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research, Barcelona, Spain.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ina.12634DOI Listing
May 2020

Changes in air quality during the lockdown in Barcelona (Spain) one month into the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic.

Sci Total Environ 2020 Jul 11;726:138540. Epub 2020 Apr 11.

Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA), Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), Barcelona, Spain. Electronic address:

Lockdown measures came into force in Spain from March 14th, two weeks after the start of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic, to reduce the epidemic curve. Our study aims to describe changes in air pollution levels during the lockdown measures in the city of Barcelona (NE Spain), by studying the time evolution of atmospheric pollutants recorded at the urban background and traffic air quality monitoring stations. After two weeks of lockdown, urban air pollution markedly decreased but with substantial differences among pollutants. The most significant reduction was estimated for BC and NO2 (-45 to -51%), pollutants mainly related to traffic emissions. A lower reduction was observed for PM10 (-28 to -31.0%). By contrast, O levels increased (+33 to +57% of the 8 h daily maxima), probably due to lower titration of O by NO and the decrease of NOx in a VOC-limited environment. Relevant differences in the meteorology of these two periods were also evidenced. The low reduction for PM10 is probably related to a significant regional contribution and the prevailing secondary origin of fine aerosols, but an in-depth evaluation has to be carried out to interpret this lower decrease. There is no defined trend for the low SO levels, probably due to the preferential reduction in emissions from the least polluting ships. A reduction of most pollutants to minimal concentrations are expected for the forthcoming weeks because of the more restrictive actions implemented for a total lockdown, which entered into force on March 30th. There are still open questions on why PM10 levels were much less reduced than BC and NO and on what is the proportion of the abatement of pollution directly related to the lockdown, without meteorological interferences.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138540DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7151283PMC
July 2020

Variability of air pollutants, and PM composition and sources at a regional background site in the Balearic Islands: Review of western Mediterranean phenomenology from a 3-year study.

Sci Total Environ 2020 May 7;717:137177. Epub 2020 Feb 7.

ARAID-Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología - CSIC, Zaragoza 50059, Spain.

The present study discloses the results of a comprehensive 3-years campaign (2010-2012) of air pollution measurements over an regional island background area (Can Llompart-Balearic Islands, Spain), contextualized with other measurements in the western Mediterranean region. Gaseous pollutants and particulate matter fractions were measured in real time; and PM and PM daily samples were obtained regularly from which chemical analyses were performed. Furthermore, during three intensive observation periods, real-time concentrations of particle number, black carbon and ammonia were additionally measured. Our results display particular diurnal and seasonal patterns for certain pollutants such as O and particle number concentration. Our study reveals that concentrations of air pollutants and aerosol chemical composition are rather similar all over the central and western Mediterranean basin. The most abundant chemical components in PM were mineral dust, followed by organic matter, sea spray and SO; in PM organic matter and SO dominated, with significant contribution of mineral dust. Furthermore, a source apportionment Positive Matrix Factorization analysis was conducted. Natural sources exert most of the impact on the coarse-mode fraction, while most of fine-mode aerosols are linked to anthropogenic sources coming from local, regional or long range transport emissions. Prevalence of Atlantic air masses in 2010 had a positive effect in air quality, lowering mineral dust, SO and EC concentrations. On the contrary, the high incidence of African dust and regional recirculation situations during the 2012 warm season favoured an overall PM load increase governed by mineral dust, SO and trace elements associated to dust aerosols. The continuous increase in tourists in the Balearic Islands, and in general all around the Mediterranean, is clearly changing air quality patterns: while urban air pollution has strongly decreased since 2010, such downward trend is less pronounced at the regional scale, thus related to crescent sources such as maritime and air transport.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137177DOI Listing
May 2020

Characterization of organic aerosol at a rural site influenced by olive waste biomass burning.

Chemosphere 2020 Jun 21;248:125896. Epub 2020 Jan 21.

Environment Department, Joint Research Unit Atmospheric Pollution CIEMAT-CSIC, Avda. Complutense 40, 28040, Madrid, Spain.

Biomass burning is a major air pollution problem all around the world. However, the identification and quantification of its contribution to ambient aerosol levels is a difficult task due to the generalized lack of observations of molecular markers. This paper presents the results of a yearlong study of organic constituents of the atmospheric aerosol at a rural site in southern Spain (Villanueva del Arzobispo, Jaén). Sampling was performed for PM and PM, and a total of 116 and 115 samples, respectively, were collected and analyzed by GC/MS, quantifying 77 organic compounds. Higher levels of organic pollutants were recorded from November to March, coinciding with the cold season when domestic combustion is a common practice in rural areas. This jointly with adverse meteorological conditions, e.g. strong atmospheric stability, produced severe pollution episodes with high PM ambient levels. High daily concentrations of tracers were reached, up to 26 ng m for B(a)P and 6065 ng m for levoglucosan in PM, supporting that biomass burning is a major source of pollution at rural areas. A multivariate statistical study based on factor and cluster analysis, was applied to the data set with the aim to distinguish sources of organic compounds. The main resulting sources were related with biomass combustion, secondary organic aerosol (SOA), biogenic emissions, lubricating oil and soil organic components. A preliminary organic source profile for olive wastes burning was evaluated, based on cluster results, showing anhydrosacharides and xylitol are the main emitted compounds, accounting for more than 85% of the quantified compounds. Other source compounds were fatty acids, diacids, aliphatics, sugars, sugar alcohols, PAHs and quinones.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2020.125896DOI Listing
June 2020

How do ultrafine particles in urban air affect ambulatory blood pressure?

J Hypertens 2020 05;38(5):845-849

Hypertension Unit and Cardiorenal Translational Laboratory, Institute of Research i+12, Hospital Universitario 12 de Octubre.

Introduction: Air in urban areas is usually contaminated with particle matter. High concentrations lead to a rise in the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Some studies have reported that ultrafine particles (UFP) play a greater role in cardiovascular diseases than other particle matter, particularly regarding hypertensive crises and DBP, although in the latter such effects were described concerning clinical blood pressure (BP). In this study, we evaluate the relationship between 24-h ambulatory BP monitoring (ABPM) and atmospheric UFP concentrations in Barcelona.

Methods: An observational study of individual patients' temporal and geographical characteristics attended in Primary Care Centres and Hypertensive Units during 2009-2014 was performed.

Results: The participants were 521 hypertensive patients, mean age 56.8 years (SD 14.5), 52.4% were women. Mean BMI was 28.0 kg/m and the most prominent cardiovascular risk factors were diabetes (N = 66, 12.7%) and smoking (N = 79, 15.2%). We describe UFP effects at short-term and up to 1 week (from lag 0 to 7). For every 10 000 particle/cm UFP increase measured at an urban background site, a corresponding statistically significant increase of 2.7 mmHg [95% confidence interval = (0.5-4.8)] in 24-h DBP with ABPM for the following day was observed (lag 1).

Conclusion: We have observed that a rise in UFP concentrations during the day prior to ABPM is significantly associated with an increase in 24 h and diurnal DBP. It has been increasingly demonstrated that UFP play a key role in cardiovascular risk factors and, as we have demonstrated, in good BP control.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/HJH.0000000000002343DOI Listing
May 2020

Source apportionment of particle number size distribution in urban background and traffic stations in four European cities.

Environ Int 2020 02 4;135:105345. Epub 2019 Dec 4.

MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, Environmental Research Group, King's College London, 150 Stamford Street, London SE1 9NH, UK.

Ultrafine particles (UFP) are suspected of having significant impacts on health. However, there have only been a limited number of studies on sources of UFP compared to larger particles. In this work, we identified and quantified the sources and processes contributing to particle number size distributions (PNSD) using Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) at six monitoring stations (four urban background and two street canyon) from four European cities: Barcelona, Helsinki, London, and Zurich. These cities are characterised by different meteorological conditions and emissions. The common sources across all stations were Photonucleation, traffic emissions (3 sources, from fresh to aged emissions: Traffic nucleation, Fresh traffic - mode diameter between 13 and 37 nm, and Urban - mode diameter between 44 and 81 nm, mainly traffic but influenced by other sources in some cities), and Secondary particles. The Photonucleation factor was only directly identified by PMF for Barcelona, while an additional split of the Nucleation factor (into Photonucleation and Traffic nucleation) by using NO concentrations as a proxy for traffic emissions was performed for all other stations. The sum of all traffic sources resulted in a maximum relative contributions ranging from 71 to 94% (annual average) thereby being the main contributor at all stations. In London and Zurich, the relative contribution of the sources did not vary significantly between seasons. In contrast, the high levels of solar radiation in Barcelona led to an important contribution of Photonucleation particles (ranging from 14% during the winter period to 35% during summer). Biogenic emissions were a source identified only in Helsinki (both in the urban background and street canyon stations), that contributed importantly during summer (23% in urban background). Airport emissions contributed to Nucleation particles at urban background sites, as the highest concentrations of this source took place when the wind was blowing from the airport direction in all cities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2019.105345DOI Listing
February 2020

Short-term effects of particulate matter during desert and non-desert dust days on mortality in Iran.

Environ Int 2020 01 18;134:105299. Epub 2019 Nov 18.

Department of Environmental Health Engineering, School of Public Health and Safety, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

Background: Increased atmospheric particulate matter (PM) concentrations are commonly observed during desert dust days in Iran, but there is still no evidence of their effects on human health. We aimed to evaluate the association between daily mortality and exposure to PM and PM during dust and non-dust days in Tehran and Ahvaz, two major Middle Eastern cities with different sources, intensity, and frequency of desert dust days.

Methods: We identified desert dust days based on exceeding a daily PM concentration threshold of 150 µg/m between 2014 and 2017, checking for low PM/PM ratio typical of dust days. We used a time-stratified case-crossover design to estimate the short-term effects of PM and PM concentrations on daily mortality during dust and non-dust days. Data was analyzed using conditional Poisson regression models.

Results: Higher concentrations of PM and frequency of desert dust days were observed in Ahvaz rather than Tehran. In Ahvaz, the effect of PM at lag 0 was much higher during dust days, an increment of 10 μg/m was associated with 3.28% (95%CI = [2.42, 4.15]) increase of daily mortality, than non-dust days, 1.03% (95%CI = [-0.02, 2.08]), while in Tehran, was slightly higher during non-dust days, 0.72% (95%CI = [0.23, 1.23]), than in dust days, 0.49% (95%CI = [-0.22, 1.20]). No statistically significant associations were observed between PM and daily mortality in Ahvaz, while in Teheran the effect of PM increased significantly during non-dust days at lag 2, 1.89% (95%CI = [0.83, 1.2.95] and lag 3, 1.88% (95%CI = [0.83, 1.2.95]).

Conclusion: The study provides evidence that exposure to PM during Middle East dust days is an important risk factor to human health in arid regions and areas affected by desert dust events.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2019.105299DOI Listing
January 2020

Spatial hazard assessment of the PM10 using machine learning models in Barcelona, Spain.

Sci Total Environ 2020 Jan 4;701:134474. Epub 2019 Oct 4.

Exploration Devision, Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology, Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, Dresden, Germany.

Air pollution, and especially atmospheric particulate matter (PM), has a profound impact on human mortality and morbidity, environment, and ecological system. Accordingly, it is very relevant predicting air quality. Although the application of the machine learning (ML) models for predicting air quality parameters, such as PM concentrations, has been evaluated in previous studies, those on the spatial hazard modeling of them are very limited. Due to the high potential of the ML models, the spatial modeling of PM can help managers to identify the pollution hotspots. Accordingly, this study aims at developing new ML models, such as Random Forest (RF), Bagged Classification and Regression Trees (Bagged CART), and Mixture Discriminate Analysis (MDA) for the hazard prediction of PM10 (particles with a diameter less than 10 µm) in the Barcelona Province, Spain. According to the annual PM10 concentration in 75 stations, the healthy and unhealthy locations are determined, and a ratio 70/30 (53/22 stations) is applied for calibrating and validating the ML models to predict the most hazardous areas for PM10. In order to identify the influential variables of PM modeling, the simulated annealing (SA) feature selection method is used. Seven features, among the thirteen features, are selected as critical features. According to the results, all the three-machine learning (ML) models achieve an excellent performance (Accuracy > 87% and precision > 86%). However, the Bagged CART and RF models have the same performance and higher than the MDA model. Spatial hazard maps predicted by the three models indicate that the high hazardous areas are located in the middle of the Barcelona Province more than in the Barcelona's Metropolitan Area.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.134474DOI Listing
January 2020

The geochemical evolution of brines from phosphogypsum deposits in Huelva (SW Spain) and its environmental implications.

Sci Total Environ 2020 Jan 4;700:134444. Epub 2019 Oct 4.

Associate Unit-University of Huelva "Atmospheric Pollution", Center for Research in Sustainable Chemistry - CIQSO, University of Huelva, Campus de El Carmen s/n, E-21071 Huelva, Spain; Department of Earth Science, University of Huelva, Campus El Carmen E21007, Huelva, Spain.

The present study focuses on the geochemistry of large phosphogypsum deposits in Huelva (SW Spain). Phosphogypsum slurry waste from fertiliser production was disposed in large ponds containing aqueous waste (i.e. brines) and exposed to weathering. These evaporation ponds were found to be dynamic environments far from attaining steady state conditions where a number of trace pollutants are subjected to temporal variations in response to changing environmental conditions. Chemical, mineralogical and morphological data were used to improve our understanding on the dynamics of a large number of elements in the phosphogypsum-brine-evaporation deposits system. Weekly sampling of brines over the course of 1 yr indicated a substantial enrichment in potentially harmful elements (e.g. As, Cr, Cu, F, Ni, U, V, Zn) present in time-dependent concentrations. The evaporation deposits formed multi-layered precipitates of chlorides, sulphates, phosphates and fluorides containing a large number of pollutants in readily soluble forms. The precipitation sequence revealed a time-dependent composition reflecting alternating precipitation and re-dissolution processes associated with seasonal changes in the local weather conditions. Concatenation of precipitation/re-dissolution stages was found to progressively enrich the brines in pollutants. These findings were supported by the observations from a tank experiment simulating the phosphogypsum-brine-evaporation deposits system under laboratory conditions. Given the substantially high concentrations of pollutants present in mobile forms in the brine-salt system, actions to abate these compounds should be implemented.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.134444DOI Listing
January 2020

Public Transport Strikes and Their Relationships With Air Pollution, Mortality, and Hospital Admissions.

Am J Epidemiol 2020 02;189(2):116-119

ISGlobal (Barcelona Institute for Global Health), Barcelona, Spain.

There is limited suggestive evidence of relationships between public transport strikes and either increased air pollution or worse population health. In this study we aimed to assess whether public transport strikes were associated with increases in health events (overall, cardiovascular and respiratory mortality, and cardiovascular and respiratory hospitalizations). We also explored whether air pollution mediated those associations. We used data from the city of Barcelona (Spain) for the period 2005-2016 on strikes, health events, and ambient air pollution (nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen monoxide, particulate matter (PM) with an aerodynamic diameter ≤10 μm, PM with an aerodynamic diameter ≤2.5μm, PM with an aerodynamic diameter ≤1μm, number of particles with a diameter greater than 5 nm per cm3 (particle number concentration), and black carbon). We used linear and quasi-Poisson regression models to explore the associations between air pollution and public transport strikes and between public transport strikes and health outcomes. We also investigated potential causal mediation by air pollution. Overall, this study suggested that public transport strikes are associated with increased overall mortality, respiratory mortality, and respiratory hospitalizations. However, our findings suggest that such increases are not mediated by the increase in air pollution. Our results indicate the need to further investigate these relationships and potential mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwz202DOI Listing
February 2020

Source apportionment of urban PM in Barcelona during SAPUSS using organic and inorganic components.

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 2019 Nov 7;26(31):32114-32127. Epub 2019 Sep 7.

Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDÆA) Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), C/ Jordi Girona 18-26, 08034, Barcelona, Spain.

Source apportionment of atmospheric PM1 is important for air quality control, especially in urban areas where high mass concentrations are often observed. Chemical analysis of molecular inorganic and organic tracer compounds and subsequently data analysis with receptor models give insight on the origin of the PM sources. In the present study, four source apportionment approaches were compared with an extended database containing inorganic and organic compounds that were measured during an intensive sampling campaign at urban traffic and urban background sites in Barcelona. Source apportionment of the combined database, containing both inorganic and organic compounds, was compared with more conventional approaches using inorganic and organic databases separately. Traffic emission sources were identified in all models for the two sites. The combined inorganic and organic databases provided higher discrimination capacity of emission sources. It identified aerosols generated by regional recirculation of biomass burning, secondary biogenic organic aerosols, harbor emissions, and specific industrial emissions. In this respect, this approach identified a relevant industrial source situated at NE Barcelona in which a waste incinerator plant, a combined-cycle power plant, and an industrial glass complex are located. Models using both inorganic and organic molecular tracer compounds improve the source apportionment of urban PM.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11356-019-06199-3DOI Listing
November 2019

Health effects of desert dust and sand storms: a systematic review and meta-analysis protocol.

BMJ Open 2019 07 30;9(7):e029876. Epub 2019 Jul 30.

Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA), Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Barcelona, Spain.

Introduction: Desert dust concentrations raise concerns about adverse effects on human health. During the last decade, special attention has been given to mineral dust particles from desert dust and sand storms. However, evidence from previous reviews reported inconclusive results on their health effects and the biological mechanism remains unclear. We aim to systematically synthesise evidence on the health effects of desert dust and sand storms accounting for the relevant desert dust patterns from source areas and emissions, transport and composition.

Methods An Analysis: We will conduct a systematic review that investigated the health effects of desert dust and sand storms in any population. The search will be performed for any eligible studies from previous reviews and selected electronic databases until 2018. Study selection and reporting will follow the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Data from individual studies will be extracted using a standardised data extraction form. Quality of the studies will be assessed using a risk of bias tool for environmental exposures developed by experts convened by the WHO. A meta-analysis will be performed by calculating the appropriate effect measures of association for binary and continuous outcomes from individual studies. Subgroup analyses will be performed by geographical areas to account for desert dust patterns.

Ethics And Dissemination: No primary data will be collected. For this reason, no formal ethical approval is required. This systematic review will help to fill the research gaps in the knowledge of desert dust on human health. The results will be disseminated through a WHO peer-reviewed publication and a conference presentation.

Prospero Registration Number: CRD42018091809.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2019-029876DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6677997PMC
July 2019

Predictors of personal exposure to black carbon among women in southern semi-rural Mozambique.

Environ Int 2019 10 10;131:104962. Epub 2019 Jul 10.

ISGlobal, Barcelona, Spain; Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), Barcelona, Spain; CIBER Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Barcelona, Spain.

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has the highest proportion of people using unclean fuels for household energy, which can result in products of incomplete combustion that are damaging for health. Black carbon (BC) is a useful marker of inefficient combustion-related particles; however, ambient air quality data and temporal patterns of personal exposure to BC in SSA are scarce. We measured ambient elemental carbon (EC), comparable to BC, and personal exposure to BC in women of childbearing age from a semi-rural area of southern Mozambique. We measured ambient EC over one year (2014-2015) using a high-volume sampler and an off-line thermo-optical-transmission method. We simultaneously measured 5-min resolved 24-h personal BC using a portable MicroAeth (AE51) in 202 women. We used backwards stepwise linear regression to identify predictors of log-transformed 24-h mean and peak (90th percentile) personal BC exposure. We analyzed data from 187 non-smoking women aged 16-46 years. While daily mean ambient EC reached moderate levels (0.9 μg/m, Standard Deviation, SD: 0.6 μg/m), daily mean personal BC reached high levels (15 μg/m, SD: 19 μg/m). Daily patterns of personal exposure revealed a peak between 6 and 7 pm (>35 μg/m), attributable to kerosene-based lighting. Key determinants of mean and peak personal exposure to BC were lighting source, kitchen type, ambient EC levels, and temperature. This study highlights the important contribution of lighting sources to personal exposure to combustion particles in populations that lack access to clean household energy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2019.104962DOI Listing
October 2019