Characterizing metals in particulate pollution in communities at the fenceline of heavy industry: combining mobile monitoring and size-resolved filter measurements

Mina W. Tehrani, Edward C. Fortner, Ellis S. Robinson, Andrea A. Chiger, Roger Sheu, Benjamin S. Werden, Carolyn Gigot, Tara Yacovitch, Scott Van Bramer, Thomas Burke, Kirsten Koehler, Keeve E. Nachman, Ana M. Rule, Peter F. DeCarlo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Exposures to metals from industrial emissions can pose important health risks. The Chester-Trainer-Marcus Hook area of southeastern Pennsylvania is home to multiple petrochemical plants, a refinery, and a waste incinerator, most abutting socio-economically disadvantaged residential communities. Existing information on fenceline community exposures is based on monitoring data with low temporal and spatial resolution and EPA models that incorporate industry self-reporting. During a 3 week sampling campaign in September 2021, size-resolved particulate matter (PM) metals concentrations were obtained at a fixed site in Chester and on-line mobile aerosol measurements were conducted around Chester-Trainer-Marcus Hook. Fixed-site arsenic, lead, antimony, cobalt, and manganese concentrations in total PM were higher (p < 0.001) than EPA model estimates, and arsenic, lead, and cadmium were predominantly observed in fine PM (<2.5 μm), the PM fraction which can penetrate deeply into the lungs. Hazard index analysis suggests adverse effects are not expected from exposures at the observed levels; however, additional chemical exposures, PM size fraction, and non-chemical stressors should be considered in future studies for accurate assessment of risk. Fixed-site MOUDI and nearby mobile aerosol measurements were moderately correlated (r ≥ 0.5) for aluminum, potassium and selenium. Source apportionment analyses suggested the presence of four major emissions sources (sea salt, mineral dust, general combustion, and non-exhaust vehicle emissions) in the study area. Elevated levels of combustion-related elements of health concern (e.g., arsenic, cadmium, antimony, and vanadium) were observed near the waste incinerator and other industrial facilities by mobile monitoring, as well as in residential-zoned areas in Chester. These results suggest potential co-exposures to harmful atmospheric metal/metalloids in communities surrounding the Chester-Trainer-Marcus Hook industrial area at levels that may exceed previous estimates from EPA modeling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1491-1504
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Science: Processes and Impacts
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 10 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Environmental Chemistry


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