Manganese concentrations in soil and settled dust in an area with historic ferroalloy production.


Ferroalloy production can release a number of metals into the environment, of which manganese (Mn) is of major concern. Other elements include lead, iron, zinc, copper, chromium, and cadmium. Mn exposure derived from settled dust and suspended aerosols can cause a variety of adverse neurological effects to chronically exposed individuals. To better estimate the current levels of exposure, this study quantified the metal levels in dust collected inside homes (n=85), outside homes (n=81), in attics (n=6), and in surface soil (n=252) in an area with historic ferroalloy production. Metals contained in indoor and outdoor dust samples were quantified using inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy, whereas attic and soil measurements were made with a X-ray fluorescence instrument. Mean Mn concentrations in soil (4600 μg/g) and indoor dust (870 μg/g) collected within 0.5 km of a plant exceeded levels previously found in suburban and urban areas, but did decrease outside 1.0 km to the upper end of background concentrations. Mn concentrations in attic dust were ~120 times larger than other indoor dust levels, consistent with historical emissions that yielded high airborne concentrations in the region. Considering the potential health effects that are associated with chronic Mn inhalation and ingestion exposure, remediation of soil near the plants and frequent, on-going hygiene indoors may decrease residential exposure and the likelihood of adverse health effects.

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