Study of spatiotemporal variation of atmospheric mercury and its human exposure around an integrated steel plant, India
Mercury release by coal combustion has been significantly increased in India. Mercury content in coal has been analyzed to 0.272 ppm by Central Pollution Control Board. Toxicological effects of elemental Hg (Hg0) exposure include respiratory and renal failures, cardiac arrest, and cerebral oedema, while subclinical exposure may induce kidney, behavioral, and cognitive dysfunctions. The present work is focused on dispersion pattern and inter-phase exchange phenomena of ambient mercury between air-particulate matter evaluations of alongwith dominance of various major routes of human exposure-dose response using regression analysis around an integrated steel plant in central India. Source-downwind type stratified random sampling plan using longitudinal study design has been adopted for ambient monitoring of total mercury, while representative sampling plant has been adopted for persona exposure-dose response study In space-time framework. Control sites and subjects have been chosen from uncontaminated area (100 km away from any industrial activities). 06 ambient air monitoring stations and 17 subjects from workers, non-workers but local residents' categories and from controlled sites have been chosen for the study. Samples of mercury biomarkers (blood, breast milk and urine) have also been collected from same subjects in each month during sampling period. The sampling period was March 2005 to February 2006. Samples of 30% acidified KMnO4 for air-Hg absorption, PM10, RPM and biological samples were analyzed for total mercury by ICP-AES using standard methods. Local soils and ground water were also monitored for total mercury content during the sampling period. Results have shown that mercury concentration is very high compared to prescribed limits in all receptors. Results of exchange phenomenon have shown the higher transfer of mercury from air to particulate during combustion in steel plant environment due to presence of huge amount of iron particles, in contrast to results obtained in other industrial locations earlier. Plant workers have shown 1.5 to 2.5 times higher personal RPM-Hg levels compared to Category 2 and 20-30 times higher than Category 3. All biomarkers have shown higher Hg presence compared to prescribed standards. Regression analysis between exposure routes and bio-receptors has been investigated. Dominance status of selected routes of bio-accumulation has been varied from category to category. © 2010 Author(s).