A study on estimation of heavy metal contents in the ambient air and their genotoxic effects

Jatinder Kaur Katnoria

Aerosol is any suspended minute solid particle or liquid droplet in the ambient air released through natural or anthropogenic activities. Anthropogenic aerosols such as particulate matter (PM) containing heavy metals, pesticides and other diverse genotoxins are of great concern due to their deleterious effects. Particulate matter (PM), especially, PM(2.5) has been reported to be the key contributor for degrading the air quality over the past few decades. Diverse contaminants present in the ambient air have been classified as carcinogens by International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Particulate matter consisting of soot particles also known as “black carbon” has predominantly increased in Punjab region due to rapid industrialization, increased vehicular emissions and stubble burning. These particles vary in composition of trace metals, organic compounds and mineral components that are liable to induce oxidative stress in various biological systems. Epidemiological studies have shown the strong association of these pro-oxidant particles with the inflammatory diseases in lungs. Considering the same, the present study was planned to estimate the contents of particulate matter and the heavy metals (copper, lead, nickel and zinc) in the ambient air (approx. at the 50 feet height) in Amritsar city, Punjab (India). The study was further planned to estimate the genotoxic potential of particulate matter following Allium cepa root chromosomal aberration assay. The ambient PM was observed to be 399.5 µg/m3 and the samples were found to contain traces of copper.

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