Characterizing metal(loid) solubility in airborne PM10, PM2.5 and PM1 in Frankfurt, Germany using simulated lung fluids
The purpose of this study is to assess the solubility of traffic-related metal(loid)s associated with airborne PM of human health concern, employing a physiologically-based extraction test with simulated lung fluids (artificial lysosomal fluid (ALF) and Gamble's solution). Airborne PM (PM10, PM2.5 and PM1) samples were collected in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, using a high volume sampler. Following extraction of the soluble metal(loid) fractions, sample filters were digested with a high pressure asher. Metal(loid) concentrations (As, Ce, Co, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb, Sb, Ti and V) were determined in extracts and digests per ICP-Q-MS.All metal(loid)s occurred at detectable concentrations in the three airborne PM fractions. Copper was the most abundant element in mass terms, with mean concentrations of 105 and 53 ng/m3 in PM10 and PM2.5, respectively. Many of the metal(loid)s were observed to be soluble in simulated lung fluids, with Cu, As, V and Sb demonstrating the highest overall mobility in airborne PM. For instance, all four elements associated with PM10 had a solubility of >80% in ALF (24 h). Clearly, solubility is strongly pH dependent, as reflected by the higher relative mobility of samples extracted with the acidic ALF. Given their demonstrated solubility, this study provides indirect evidence that a number of toxic metal(loid)s are likely to possess an enhanced pulmonary toxic potential upon their inhalation. The co-presence of many toxic elements of concern in airborne PM suggests an assessment of health risk must consider the possible interactive impacts of multi-element exposures.