Human health risk from Pb in urban street dust in northern UK cities

Nwabueze Elom, Jane Entwistle, John Dean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The presence of Pb in the environment can cause significant health problems. These issues are exasperated when the lead is in a more amenable form for potential ingestion. This study investigates the potential human health risk from Pb in urban street dusts. The lead levels in urban street dust in major city centres in northern UK have been compared to levels determined in 35 cities around the world. With a few exceptions, it was noted that the mean Pb levels in this study exceeded those found in other cities worldwide. Samples (n = 15) of urban street dust were collected across five city centres, and specifically in areas in which pedestrians are likely to concentrate, as well as near historical buildings. Typical total lead concentrations across all sampling sites ranged from 306 to 558 mg/kg. The human health risk was assessed using oral bioaccessibility testing of the urban street dust. The mean oral bioaccessibility data, irrespective of site and sample location, were in the range 43 ± 9 %. The total and bioaccessible concentrations of lead were compared to the estimated tolerable daily intake (TDIoral) values based on unintentional soil/dust consumption. It is noted, in all cases, that the maximum estimated lead daily intake exceeded the TDIoral. An alternative approach for assessing the daily intake is proposed based on the actual measured air quality in selected cities on the same day as the sampled urban dust.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-218
JournalEnvironmental Chemistry Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


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