Particulate matter oxidative potential from waste transfer station activity

Environ Health Perspect. 2010 Apr;118(4):493-8. doi: 10.1289/ehp.0901303.


Background: Adverse cardiorespiratory health is associated with exposure to ambient particulate matter (PM). The highest PM concentrations in London occur in proximity to waste transfer stations (WTS), sites that experience high numbers of dust-laden, heavy-duty diesel vehicles transporting industrial and household waste.

Objective: Our goal was to quantify the contribution of WTS emissions to ambient PM mass concentrations and oxidative potential.

Methods: PM with a diameter < 10 microm (PM10) samples were collected daily close to a WTS. PM10 mass concentrations measurements were source apportioned to estimate local versus background sources. PM oxidative potential was assessed using the extent of antioxidant depletion from a respiratory tract lining fluid model. Total trace metal and bioavailable iron concentrations were measured to determine their contribution to PM oxidative potential.

Results: Elevated diurnal PM10 mass concentrations were observed on all days with WTS activity (Monday-Saturday). Variable PM oxidative potential, bioavailable iron, and total metal concentrations were observed on these days. The contribution of WTS emissions to PM at the sampling site, as predicted by microscale wind direction measurements, was correlated with ascorbate (r = 0.80; p = 0.030) and glutathione depletion (r = 0.76; p = 0.046). Increased PM oxidative potential was associated with aluminum, lead, and iron content.

Conclusions: PM arising from WTS activity has elevated trace metal concentrations and, as a consequence, increased oxidative potential. PM released by WTS activity should be considered a potential health risk to the nearby residential community.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Meteorology
  • Particulate Matter / chemistry*


  • Antioxidants
  • Particulate Matter