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Particle size distributions, size concentration relationships, and adherence to hands of selected geologic media derived from mining, smelting, and quarrying activities.

Bergstrom C; Shirai J; Kissel J
Sci Total Environ 2011 Sep; 409(20):4247-4256
Hand-to-mouth activity, especially in children, is a potentially significant pathway of exposure to soil contaminants. Hand-mouthing behavior is of particular concern in areas impacted by mining, smelting, and quarrying activities as these activities may lead to elevated levels of heavy metals in soil. In order to estimate potential exposures to contaminated geologic media attributable to hand-to-mouth contact, it is useful to characterize adherence of those media to skin, as contaminant concentrations in adhered media may differ greatly from unfractionated, whole media concentrations. Such an investigation has been undertaken to aid estimation of exposures to arsenic, cadmium, lead, and zinc in nine different geologic media collected in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. After establishing the particle size distribution of each medium (fractions < 63 µm, 63-150 µm, 150-250 µm, and 250 µm-2mm were determined) and target elemental concentrations within each particle size fraction, an active handling protocol involving six volunteers was conducted. Wet media always adhered to a greater extent than dry media and adhered media generally had higher elemental concentrations than bulk media. Regression analyses suggest smaller particle fractions may have higher elemental concentrations. Results of application of a maximum likelihood estimation technique generally indicate that handling of dry media leads to preferential adherence of smaller particle sizes, while handling of wet media does not. Because adhered material can differ greatly in particle size distribution from that found in bulk material, use of bulk concentrations in exposure calculations may lead to poor estimation of actual exposures. Since lead has historically been a metal of particular concern, EPA's Integrated Exposure Uptake Biokinetic (IEUBK) Model was used to examine the potential consequences of evaluating ingestion of the selected media assuming concentrations in adhering versus bulk media.
Environmental-contamination; Environmental-exposure; Environmental-hazards; Environmental-pollution; Soil-bacteria; Soil-sampling; Heavy-metal-poisoning; Heavy-metals; Geology; Exposure-assessment; Biokinetics; Metal-compounds; Metal-dusts; Metals; Skin-exposure; Particulate-dust; Particulates; Metal-mining; Author Keywords: Dermal; Adherence; Soil; Metals
John Kissel, 4225 Roosevelt Way NE Ste. 100, Box 354695, Seattle, WA 98105, USA
7440-38-2; 7440-43-9; 7439-92-1; 7440-66-6
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Grant-Number-T42-OH-008433; B01182012
Issue of Publication
Source Name
Science of the Total Environment
Performing Organization
University of Washington
Page last reviewed: March 3, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division