Cancer risk assessment of selected hazardous air pollutants in Seattle

Environ Int. 2009 Apr;35(3):516-22. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2008.09.009. Epub 2008 Nov 8.


The risk estimates calculated from the conventional risk assessment method usually are compound specific and provide limited information for source-specific air quality control. We used a risk apportionment approach, which is a combination of receptor modeling and risk assessment, to estimate source-specific lifetime excess cancer risks of selected hazardous air pollutants. We analyzed the speciated PM(2.5) and VOCs data collected at the Beacon Hill in Seattle, WA between 2000 and 2004 with the Multilinear Engine to first quantify source contributions to the mixture of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) in terms of mass concentrations. The cancer risk from exposure to each source was then calculated as the sum of all available species' cancer risks in the source feature. We also adopted the bootstrapping technique for the uncertainty analysis. The results showed that the overall cancer risk was 6.09 x 10(-5), with the background (1.61 x 10(-5)), diesel (9.82 x 10(-6)) and wood burning (9.45 x 10(-6)) sources being the primary risk sources. The PM(2.5) mass concentration contributed 20% of the total risk. The 5th percentile of the risk estimates of all sources other than marine and soil were higher than 110(-6). It was also found that the diesel and wood burning sources presented similar cancer risks although the diesel exhaust contributed less to the PM(2.5) mass concentration than the wood burning. This highlights the additional value from such a risk apportionment approach that could be utilized for prioritizing control strategies to reduce the highest population health risks from exposure to HAPs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Risk Assessment*
  • Washington


  • Air Pollutants