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Abstract - This study deals with the assessment of the cancer risk attributable to PAH exposure, attributable to the increased use of biomass for space heating in Greece in the winter of 2012–2013. Three fractions of particulates (PM1, PM2.5 and PM10) were measured in two sampling sites (urban/residential and traffic-influenced) followed by chemical analysis of 19 PAHs and levoglucosan (used as a biomarker tracer). PAH-induced lung cancer risk was estimated by a comprehensive methodology that incorporated human respiratory tract deposition modelling in order to estimate the toxic equivalent concentration (TEQ) at each target tissue. This allowed us to further differentiate internal exposure and risk by age groups. Results showed that all PM fractions are higher in Greece during the cold months of the year, mainly due to biomass use for space heating. PAH and levoglucosan levels were highly correlated, indicating that particles emitted from biomass combustion are more toxic than PM emitted from other sources. The estimated lung cancer risk was non-negligible for residents close to the urban background monitoring site. Higher risk was estimated for infants and children, due to the higher bodyweight normalized dose and the human respiratory tract (HRT) physiology. HRT structure and physiology in youngsters favor deposition of particles that are smaller and more toxic per unit mass. In all cases, the estimated risk (5.7E−07 and 1.4E−06 for the urban background site and 1.4E−07 to 5.0E−07 for the traffic site) was lower to the one estimated by the conventional methodology (2.8E−06 and 9.7E−07 for the urban background and the traffic site respectively) that is based on Inhalation Unit Risk; the latter assumes that all PAHs adsorbed on particles are taken up by humans. With the methodology proposed herein, the estimated risk presents a 5–7 times difference between the two sampling sites (depending on the age group). These differences could not have been identified had we relied only on conventional risk assessment method. Consequently, the actual cancer risk attributable to PAHs on PM emitted from biomass burning would have been significantly underestimated.
Sarigiannis, D. A., S. P. Karakitsios, D. Zikopoulos, S. Nikolaki, & M. Kermenidou (2015) Lung cancer risk from PAHs emitted from biomass combustion, ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH 137:147-156.