The Fate and Potential Bioavailability of Airborne Urban Contaminants

EPA Grant Number: R828771C002
Subproject: this is subproject number 002 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R828771
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: HSRC (2001) - Center for Hazardous Substances in Urban Environments
Center Director: Bouwer, Edward J.
Title: The Fate and Potential Bioavailability of Airborne Urban Contaminants
Investigators: Mason, Robert P. , Baker, Joel E. , Ondov, John M.
Current Investigators: Baker, Joel E. , Crimmins, Bernard , Laurier, Fabien , Mason, Robert P. , Ondov, John M. , Pancras, Patrick
Institution: University of Maryland
EPA Project Officer: Lasat, Mitch
Project Period: October 1, 2001 through September 30, 2002
Project Amount: Refer to main center abstract for funding details.
RFA: Hazardous Substance Research Centers - HSRC (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Hazardous Waste/Remediation , Land and Waste Management


Numerous laboratory and epidemiological studies have suggested that urban particulate causes adverse health effects to humans, and can be an important source of contaminants to nearby waters. The physical or chemical properties of the ambient aerosol particles responsible for observed effects are poorly understood. This study will evaluate the importance of coarse particles entrained to the atmosphere from hazardous waste, brownfield and other urban sources as a source of contaminants to surrounding surface waters, and to humans via inhalation. We hypothesize that these coarse particles are not only an important source for contaminant cycling in the urban environment but also that the contaminants associated with these particles are readily available for desorption. The hypothesis will be tested through the coordination of our studies with those at the EPA-funded Baltimore PM supersite ( Exit EPA icon) which are focused on ascertaining the short term variability of physical and chemical properties of the ambient aerosol. We will collect aerosol samples at the Supersite, as an integrated urban site, to determine the characteristics of the coarse particle fraction and to measure the potential of the associated contaminants to be leached into water or to be taken up through the inhalation pathway. The changes in bioavailability between samples will be related to a full suite of chemical and physical characteristics of the particles and will be further compared to that of the potential source material from specific sites, such as those associated with hazardous waste sites, brownfields, and coal residues.


Our approach will focus on using the new University of Maryland (UM) ultra high volume sampler to collect particle PM samples and additionally the new UM Semi-Continuous Aerosol Sampling System (SEAS) for the analysis of particulate collected at the supersite for metals. Short-term samples will be collected for metal and mercury (Hg) quantification. Organic chemicals, including PAHs, NPAHs, and tracer compounds, will also be analyzed. For organics, longer collection times may be needed, depending upon their particular concentrations. Additional ancillary measurements will quantify chemical and physical characteristics of the particles. Aerosol samples will be leached with distilled water and surface water from Baltimore Harbor to assess both the kinetics of dissolution as well as the potential steady state dissolution. From these results, the potential exposure from particulate to humans via inhalation will also be assessed. The first year of study will focus on this aspect of the transfer of urban contaminants at the land-air interface.

Expected Results:

From these studies we will derive a simple model to quantify the potential impact of this mode of transfer of contaminants from the land to nearby waters. Also, the studies will ascertain the potential for contaminants associated with particulate to exacerbate the respiratory impact of urban particulate on humans.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this subproject: View all 3 publications for this subprojectView all 108 publications for this center

Supplemental Keywords:

aerosol, deposition, toxics., RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, Air, Waste, particulate matter, Health Risk Assessment, Risk Assessments, Brownfields, Hazardous Waste, Biochemistry, Ecology and Ecosystems, Hazardous, brownfield sites, environmental hazards, ambient aerosol, ambient air quality, urban air, contaminant transport, air toxics, epidemiology, contaminant dynamics, human health effects, risk assessment , air quality models, airborne particulate matter, contaminant cycling, bioavailability, air pollution, air sampling, environmental health effects, human exposure, aerosol composition, airborne aerosols, respiratory impact, PM, aersol particles, technology transfer, urban environment, airborne urban contaminants, human health risk, aerosols, technical outreach

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R828771    HSRC (2001) - Center for Hazardous Substances in Urban Environments

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R828771C001 Co-Contaminant Effects on Risk Assessment and Remediation Activities Involving Urban Sediments and Soils: Phase II
    R828771C002 The Fate and Potential Bioavailability of Airborne Urban Contaminants
    R828771C003 Geochemistry, Biochemistry, and Surface/Groundwater Interactions for As, Cr, Ni, Zn, and Cd with Applications to Contaminated Waterfronts
    R828771C004 Large Eddy Simulation of Dispersion in Urban Areas
    R828771C005 Speciation of chromium in environmental media using capillary electrophoresis with multiple wavlength UV/visible detection
    R828771C006 Zero-Valent Metal Treatment of Halogenated Vapor-Phase Contaminants in SVE Offgas
    R828771C007 The Center for Hazardous Substances in Urban Environments (CHSUE) Outreach Program
    R828771C008 New Jersey Institute of Technology Outreach Program for EPA Region II
    R828771C009 Urban Environmental Issues: Hartford Technology Transfer and Outreach
    R828771C010 University of Maryland Outreach Component
    R828771C011 Environmental Assessment and GIS System Development of Brownfield Sites in Baltimore
    R828771C012 Solubilization of Particulate-Bound Ni(II) and Zn(II)
    R828771C013 Seasonal Controls of Arsenic Transport Across the Groundwater-Surface Water Interface at a Closed Landfill Site
    R828771C014 Research Needs in the EPA Regions Covered by the Center for Hazardous Substances in Urban Environments
    R828771C015 Transport of Hazardous Substances Between Brownfields and the Surrounding Urban Atmosphere