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Deposited particulate matter enrichment in heavy metals and related health risk: A case study of Krakow, Poland.
1  AGH University of Science and Technology


The air quality is of most importance due to its direct effect on human health. Krakow from many years is the example of the city of constant poor or even very poor air quality [1]. Analyzing the results of the ambient air quality monitoring network in Krakow, operated by the Regional Environmental Protection Inspectorate in Krakow (WIOŚ), it was observed that the particulate matter (PM) is the key air pollutant [2-4]. Moreover, PM particles bound other contaminants, especially heavy metals, that alongside with PM cause negative health effects after entering the body through inhalation, digestion or dermal contact.

The aim of the investigations was to determine impact of heavy metals bound with deposited PM on contamination degree and related toxicological effects by calculating enrichment factors, namely: geo-accumulation index (Igeo), contamination factor (CF), enrichment factor (EF), as well as ecological risk index (ERI) and modified hazard quotient (mHQ). Calculations were based on the selected heavy metal concentrations determined in deposited PM samples in Krakow [5].

The results of the investigations revealed that deposited PM was enriched in heavy metals. As Igeo index provides information of the level of metal accumulation it was stated that deposited PM was practically uncontaminated with Be, Cd, and Tl (class 0) but heavily to extremely contaminated (class 5) with Co and Sn and extremely contaminated (class 6) with As, Ba, Cr, Cu, Li, Mn, Ni, Pb, Sr, Ti, V and Zn. On the other hand, calculated values of CF revealed very high contamination of deposited PM with Cd and Zn, considerable contamination with Sn, Pb, and As, and moderate contamination with Cu and Li. Values of calculated EF revealed that from investigated elements only Zn originated form anthropogenic sources. For Cd small influence of anthropogenic sources was observed. For Pb and Sn non-crustal sources of emission were expected. Calculated ERI values indicated very high for Cd, considerable for Zn, and low potential ecological risk for As, Co, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb and Tl. Moreover, calculated mHQ values indicated extreme for Zn, considerable for Cr, and moderate severity of contamination for As, Cu and Pb.

The analysis revealed that the impact of atmospheric and re-suspended PM on inhabitants constitutes the complex effect of mixture of heavy metals affecting simultaneously the human health.


1. European Environment Agency. Air Quality in Europe—2018 Report; EEA Report No 12/2018; Publications Office of the European Union: Luxembourg, 2018.

2. Bokwa, A. Environmental impact of long-term air pollution changes in Krakow, Poland. Polish J of Environ Stud 2008, 5, 673–686.

3. Choi. H.; Melly, S.; Spengler, J. Intraurban and Longitudinal Variability of Classical Pollutants in Kraków, Poland, 2000–2010. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 4967–4991.

4. Gruszecka-Kosowska, A. Assessment of the Krakow inhabitants’ health risk caused by the exposure to inhalation of outdoor air contaminants. Stoch Environ Res Risk Assess 2018, 32, 485–499.

5. Gruszecka-Kosowska, A.; Wdowin, M. 2016. The mineralogy, geochemistry and health risk assessment of deposited particulate matter (PM) in Krakow, Poland. Geology, Geophysics & Environment 2016, 42(4), 429–441.

Keywords: air quality; particulate matter; heavy metals; contamination factors; health risk
Comments on this paper
Giulia Simonetti
Dear Agnieszka Gruszecka-Kosowska which kind of sampers did you use in this work ? Did you consider if different particulate size could affect differently the human health?
Agnieszka Gruszecka-Kosowska
Dear Giulia Simonetti,
Thank you for your comment. We analyzed deposited particulate matter, meaning we put dust containers (surface area of 0.3 sq m each) at the height of ca. 2 m above the ground to avoid secondary emission from the ground (Gruszecka-Kosowska and Wdowin 2016). In this work we assessed the health risk arising from heavy metal contents in collected deposited PM samples only, thus we didn’t consider different sizes of PM. I agree that this affect differently the human health and we plan further investigations in this field.
With kind regards,
Agnieszka Gruszecka-Kosowska