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Science in the News

Latest on-line papers from the SEGH journal: Environmental Geochemistry and Health

  • Elemental concentrations and in vitro bioaccessibility in Canadian background soils 2016-06-28


    Elemental concentrations and bioaccessibility were determined in background soils collected in Canada as part of the North American Geochemical Landscapes Project. The concentrations of As, Cr, Cu, Co, Ni and Zn were higher in the C-horizon (parent material) compared to 0–5 cm (surface soil), and this observation along with the regional distribution suggested that most of the variability in concentrations of these elements were governed by the bedrock characteristics. Unlike the above-stated elements, Pb and Cd concentrations were higher in the surface layer reflecting the potential effects of anthropogenic deposition. Elemental bioaccessibility was variable decreasing in the order Cd > Pb > Cu > Zn > Ni > Co > As > Cr for the surface soils. With the exception of As, bioaccessibility was generally higher in the C-horizon soils compared to the 0–5 cm soils. The differences in metal bioaccessibility between the 0–5 cm and the C-horizon and among the provinces may reflect geological processes and speciation. The mean, median or 95th percentile bioaccessibility for As, Cr, Cu, Co, Ni and Pb were all below 100 %, suggesting that the use of site-specific bioaccessibility results for these elements will yield more accurate estimation of the risk associated with oral bioavailability for sites where soil ingestion is the major contributor of human health risk.

  • Characteristics of PM 2.5 , CO 2 and particle-number concentration in mass transit railway carriages in Hong Kong 2016-06-20


    Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) levels, carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and particle-number concentrations (PNC) were monitored in train carriages on seven routes of the mass transit railway in Hong Kong between March and May 2014, using real-time monitoring instruments. The 8-h average PM2.5 levels in carriages on the seven routes ranged from 24.1 to 49.8 µg/m3, higher than levels in Finland and similar to those in New York, and in most cases exceeding the standard set by the World Health Organisation (25 µg/m3). The CO2 concentration ranged from 714 to 1801 ppm on four of the routes, generally exceeding indoor air quality guidelines (1000 ppm over 8 h) and reaching levels as high as those in Beijing. PNC ranged from 1506 to 11,570 particles/cm3, lower than readings in Sydney and higher than readings in Taipei. Correlation analysis indicated that the number of passengers in a given carriage did not affect the PM2.5 concentration or PNC in the carriage. However, a significant positive correlation (p < 0.001, R 2 = 0.834) was observed between passenger numbers and CO2 levels, with each passenger contributing approximately 7.7–9.8 ppm of CO2. The real-time measurements of PM2.5 and PNC varied considerably, rising when carriage doors opened on arrival at a station and when passengers inside the carriage were more active. This suggests that air pollutants outside the train and passenger movements may contribute to PM2.5 levels and PNC. Assessment of the risk associated with PM2.5 exposure revealed that children are most severely affected by PM2.5 pollution, followed in order by juveniles, adults and the elderly. In addition, females were found to be more vulnerable to PM2.5 pollution than males (p < 0.001), and different subway lines were associated with different levels of risk.

  • Excessive fluoride consumption increases haematological alteration in subjects with iron deficiency, thalassaemia, and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G-6-PD) deficiency 2016-06-18


    Excessive fluoride consumption leads to accelerated red blood cell death and anaemia. Whether that increases the haematological alteration in subjects with haematological disorders (iron deficiency, thalassaemia, and G-6-PD deficiency) is still unclear. The fluoride in serum and urine and haematological parameters of students at Mae Tuen School (fluoride endemic area) were analysed and compared to those of students at Baan Yang Poa and Baan Mai Schools (control areas). Iron deficiency, thalassaemia, and G-6-PD deficiency were also diagnosed in these students. The students at Mae Tuen School had significantly (P < 0.001) higher levels of mean fluoride in the serum and urine than those in control areas. In both control and fluoride endemic areas, students with haematological disorders had significantly lower levels of Hb, Hct, MCV, MCH, and MCHC than those without haematological disorders. Moreover, the lowest levels of Hb, MCH, and MCHC were observed in the students with haematological disorders who live in the fluoride endemic area. Thus, the excessive fluoride consumption increased haematological alteration in subjects with iron deficiency, thalassaemia, and G-6-PD deficiency and that may increase the risk of anaemia in these subjects.