Author(s): CC Kaonga, IBM Kosamu and W. Utembe

Source: Atmosphere 2021, 12, 891.

Abstract: This review gives insights into the levels of metals in urban dust, their determination methods, and risk assessment. Urban dust harbors a number of pollutants, including heavy metals. There are various methods used for the sampling of urban dust for heavy-metal analysis and source apportionment purposes, with the predominant one being the use of plastic sampling materials to avoid prior contamination. There are also various methods for the determination of metals, which include: atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS) and inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), among others. Studies have shown that pollutants in urban dust are mainly derived from industrial activities and coal combustion, whereas traffic emissions are also an important, but not a predominant source of pollution. The varying particle-size distribution of urban dust and its large surface area makes it easier for the deposition and transport of heavy metals. Risk-assessment studies have shown that metals in urban dust could cause such problems as human pulmonary toxicity and reduction of invertebrate populations. The risk levels seem to be higher in children than adults, as some studies have shown. It is therefore important that studies on metals in urban dust should always incorporate risk assessment as one of the main issues.

Keywords: heavy metals; pollution; urban dust; risk assessment; toxicity; human health