Characterization and health risk assessment of indoor dust in biomass and LPG-based households of rural Telangana, India
Indoor dust is one of the key sources contributing to indoor air pollution (IAP) in rural households. It acts as a media for various toxicants like heavy metal depositions and causes severe health risks. The present study deals with investigation of metal concentrations and morphological characteristics of indoor dust generated in varied fuel types followed by estimation of health risks for women and children in rural households in Telangana, India. Indoor floor dust samples were collected from households using biomass and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as their cooking energy during winter to evaluate the morphological and chemical characteristics in the aforementioned dust samples. A morphological (SEM-EDX) analysis revealed the presence of carbonaceous particles in biomass-based households and mineral-rich crustal sources in LPG-based households. As observed from ICP-OES analysis, there is a significant difference in mean concentrations of Al, Co, Cr, Fe, Zn, and Ni based on fuel type, except for Mn and Pb. From Pearson’s correlation analysis and principal component analysis, it was observed that the biomass households were dominated by Zn, Al, Mn, Cr, and Pb, which could have been contributed from biomass burning deposits, crustal sources, and unpaved roads, while Cr, Pb, Fe, and Mn dominated in LPG households, indicating their origin from leaded paints (Pb and Cr) and crustal sources. The health risks associated with these heavy metals to women and children were investigated using an EPA health risk model. The values from the model indicated that both non-carcinogenic and carcinogenic risks were within the safe levels for both subjects. This study not only establishes chemical and morphological characteristics of indoor dust, but also quantifies the role of fuel type.
Implications: The present study provides the latest geographical evidence of chemical and morphological characterization of indoor dust particles in varied fuels; i.e, biomass- and LPG-based households and associated health risk assessment in a sub-tropical rural site in Telangana, India. Nevertheless, further research is essential from various regions across the country for more heavy metal analysis and factors impacting these levels. One of the major limitations of the present study is the analysis of few metals and measurements in only living area locations. Future studies can include soil and road dust, as well as kitchens and bedrooms, to provide more comprehensive analysis of dust compositions in varied environments.