In this study, urban road dust (URD) samples were collected in two populated agglomerations of Wrocław and Katowice (Lower and Upper Silesia) in Poland. Both the total concentrations of URD-bound Mn, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Rb, Ba, Cr, Mg, and Al and concentrations of their water-soluble fraction were determined. The contamination characteristics and health risk related to these elements were assessed. Contamination level assessment was done by Pollution Load Index (PLI), which indicated much higher pollution of Katowice agglomeration than Wrocław. The enrichment factor values (EF) showed that the most elements in both Katowice and Wrocław orginated from anthropogenic sources. The calculations of geo-accumulation index (Igeo
) showed that Zn and As are the key pollutants in Katowice; and in the Wrocław region, Cu, Zn, Cr, and Ni are. The principle component analysis (PCA) and correlation analysis provide information about the potential sources of metals. Additionally, a positive matrix factorization (PMF) was performed and four factors in PMF analysis were found and then interpreted by comparing to the source profiles. Three contamination sources were revealed: fossil fuel combustion, road traffic and industrial emissions. Although the main source of studied metals in Lower Silesia is road traffic, in Upper Silesia, domestic heating with the use of hard and brawn coal and industrial activity predominates. Human exposure to individual toxic metals through road dust was assessed for both children and adults. By calculating the average daily dose (ADD) via ingestion, inhalation, and dermal contact, it was found that ingestion and then dermal contact were the greatest exposure pathways for humans in Katowice and Wrocław. Children had greater health risks than adults. According to the health risk assessment, the overall non-carcinogenic risks in both urban areas was rather low. The only exception was As bound to urban road dust in Katowice agglomeration, which indicates risk for children when ingested. The total excess cancer risk (ECR) was also lower than the acceptable level (10−6
) for both adults and children, although ECR for Katowice was closer to this limit.
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