Deposition of trace metals associated with atmospheric particulate matter: Environmental fate and health risk assessment

Meththika Vithanage*, Pasan Chinthana Bandara, Luís A B Novo, Amit Kumar, Balram Ambade, G Naveendrakumar, Manjula Ranagalage, Dhammika N Magana-Arachchi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)
67 Downloads (Pure)


Anthropogenic and natural sources influence trace metals (TMs) bound to different sized particulate matter (PM) in dry and wet atmospheric deposition, which can create ecosystem and human health issues in the long run. Limited reviews are available summarizing worldwide concentrations in TMs in atmospheric PMs, their sources and pathways. Simultaneously, quantitative assessment of the potential human and ecosystem health risks imposed by the atmospheric particulate matter has not been adequately reviewed. Addressing this gap, here we review, the concentration of TMs in dry deposition mainly varies with the responsible sources, whereas, in wet deposition, it depends on the solubility of TMs. Other than deposition on impervious surfaces, the TMs incorporated PM can be deposited on biological agents. Health risk assessments show that ingestion and dermal contact pathways are more likely to cause health issues, however, the probability of occurring ingestion and dermal contact pathways is limited. Attention must be paid to the contribution from non-exhaust and exhaust vehicular emissions for TMs in atmospheric deposition, understanding their impact on stormwater management and urban agriculture. Behaviors of TMs in the atmosphere depends on many complex factors including origin, wind patterns, and weather conditions. Therefore, future research needs to be carried to model and predict the fate and transfer of TMs once they are generated through natural and anthropogenic sources. We believe that such research would allow establishing pollution control policies and measures in urban environments which will be critical to reduce the levels of TMs associated with atmospheric deposition in the environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number135051
Issue numberPt 3
Early online date4 Jun 2022
Publication statusPrint publication - Sept 2022

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  • Air Pollutants/analysis
  • Ecosystem
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Metals, Heavy/analysis
  • Particulate Matter/analysis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Trace Elements/analysis
  • Vehicle Emissions


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