Serrano, H.C., Köbel, M., Palma-Oliveira, J., Pinho, P. & Branquinho, C. (2017) Mapping exposure to multi-pollutants using environmental biomonitors a multi-exposure index.Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A: Current Issues, 80(13-15), 710-718. DOI:10.1080/15287394.2017.1286930 (IF2016 2,731; Q2 Environmental Sciences)
Atmosphere is a major pathway for transport and deposition of pollutants in the environment. In industrial areas, organic compounds are released or formed as by-products, such as polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/F’s). Inorganic chemical elements, including lead and arsenic, are also part of the pollutants mixture, and even in low concentrations may potentially be toxic and carcinogenic. However, assessing the spatial pattern of their deposition is difficult due to high spatial and temporal heterogeneity. Lichens have been used as biomonitors of atmospheric deposition, because these organisms encompass greater spatial detail than air monitoring stations and provide an integration of overall pollution. Based upon the ability of lichens to concentrate pollutants such as PCDD/F and chemical elements, the main objectives of this study were to develop a new semi-quantitative multi-pollutant toxicity exposure index (TEQ-like), derived from risk estimates, in an attempt to correlate several atmospheric pollutants to human exposure levels. The actual pollutant concentrations were measured in the environment, from biomonitors (organisms that integrate multi-pollutants), enabling interpolation and mapping of contaminant deposition within the region. Thus, the TEQ-like index provides a spatial representation not from absolute accumulation of the different pollutants, but from the accumulation weighted by their relative risk. The assessment of environmental human exposure to multi-pollutants through atmospheric deposition may be applied to industries to improve mitigation processes or to health stakeholders to target populations for a comprehensive risk assessment, epidemiological studies, and health recommendations.