Resuspension of microplastics and microrubbers in a semi-arid urban environment (Shiraz, Iran)
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Although airborne urban particles are a concern for air quality and human health, little information exists on the levels and characteristics of microplastics (MPs) and microrubbers (MRs) in this setting. In the present study, MPs and MRs are quantified and characterised in road dusts and accumulations captured passively (and up to elevations of 177 cm above road level) in the steps of utility poles at 18 locations throughout the city of Shiraz, southwest Iran. Dust accumulation rates were greatest at road level (median = 45 g m−2 month−1) and declined with elevation (median = 2.0 g m−2 month−1 at 177 cm). The accumulation rates and concentrations (per g of dust) of MPs and MRs were more variable between locations but accumulation declined with elevation for both particle types and MR concentration (up to ∼27,000 MR g−1) was always greater than corresponding MP concentration (up to ∼3300 MP g−1). Increasing elevation was also accompanied by an increasing proportion of fine (≤100 μm) and fibrous particles, and in particular for MPs. Fractionation in the quantities and characteristics with elevation above road level are attributed to the extent of resuspension of MPs and MRs from the road surface by wind and passing traffic, with aerodynamic considerations predicting the greatest and most widespread resuspension of fibrous MPs. The fractionation of MPs and MRs with elevation above road level also results in different exposures for adults and children.
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