A streamlined approach by a combination of bioindication and geostatistical methods for assessing air contaminants and their effects on human health in industrialized areas

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Frontiers in Plant Science
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Industrialization in developing countries associated with urban growth results in a number of economic benefits, especially in small or medium-sized cities, but leads to a number of environmental and public health consequences. This problem is further aggravated when adequate infrastructure is lacking to monitor the environmental impacts left by industries and refineries. In this study, a new protocol was designed combining biomonitoring and geostatistics to evaluate the possible effects of shale industry emissions on human health and wellbeing. Futhermore, the traditional and expensive air quality method based on PM2.5 measuring was also used to validate the low-cost geostatistical approach. Chemical analysis was performed using Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (EDXRF) to measure inorganic elements in tree bark and shale retorted samples in São Mateus do Sul city, Southern Brazil. Fe, S, and Si were considered potential pollutants in the study area. Distribution maps of element concentrations were generated from the dataset and used to estimate the spatial behavior of Fe, S, and Si and the range from their hot spot(s), highlighting the regions sorrounding the shale refinery. This evidence was also demonstrated in the measurements of PM2.5 concentrations, which are in agreement with the information obtained from the biomonitoring and geostatistical model. Factor and descriptive analyses performed on the concentrations of tree bark contaminants suggest that Fe, S, and Si might be used as indicators of industrial emissions. The number of cases of respiratory diseases obtained from local basic health unit were used to assess a possible correlation between shale refinery emissions and cases of repiratory disease. These data are public and may be accessed on the website of the the Brazilian Ministry of Health. Significant associations were found between the health data and refinery activities. The combination of the spatial characterization of air pollution and clinical health data revealed that adverse effects were significant for individuals over 38 years of age. These results also suggest that a protocol designed to monitor urban air quality may be an effective and low-cost strategy in environmentally contaminated cities, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

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FERREIRA, ANGELICA B.; RIBEIRO, ANDREZA P.; FERREIRA, MAURICIO L.; KNIESS, CLAUDIA T.; QUARESMA, CRISTIANO C.; LAFORTEZZA, RAFFAELE; SANTOS, JOSE O.; SAIKI, MITIKO; SALDIVA, PAULO H. A streamlined approach by a combination of bioindication and geostatistical methods for assessing air contaminants and their effects on human health in industrialized areas: a case study in Southern Brazil. Frontiers in Plant Science, v. 8, n. 1575, p. 1-15, 2017. DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2017.01575. Disponível em: http://repositorio.ipen.br/handle/123456789/28468. Acesso em: 23 May 2024.
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