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Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2007 Jan;14(1):3-4.

Facing hazardous matter in atmospheric particles with NanoSIMS.

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Department of Environment and Agro-Biotechnologies, Public Research Centre Gabriel Lippmann, 41, rue du Brill, 4422 Belvaux, Luxembourg.


Current scientific studies and evaluations clearly show that an increase of urban dust loads, alone or in combination with other air pollutants and certain meteorological conditions lead to different significant health effects. Premature death, increased hospital admissions and increased respiratory symptoms and diseases as well as decreased lung function can be observed in combination with high pollutant levels. Sensitive groups like elderly people or children and persons with cardiopulmonary diseases such as asthma are more strongly affected. Because of the direct contact between fine particles and lung tissue more information concerning the surface structure (mapping of toxic elements) is required. The NanoSIMS 50 ion microprobe is used to image the elemental composition at the surface of submicrometer particles. Imaging the ions of the samples under cesium bombardment identifies the organic and inorganic origins of the grains. Our investigations show that the atmospheric fine dust consists of a complex mixture of organic and inorganic compounds. Heavy metals are fixed on airborne particles in the form of hot spots in a nanometer scale. In regard to the health aspect, the hot spots consisting of toxic elements are particularly relevant as they react directly with the lung tissues.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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