Human exposure and risk associated with trace element concentrations in indoor dust from Australian homes

Israel N. Y. Doyi*, Cynthia Faye Isley, Neda Sharifi Soltani, Mark Patrick Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)
215 Downloads (Pure)


This study examines residential indoor dust from 224 homes in Sydney, Australia for trace element concentrations measured using portable X-ray Fluorescence (pXRF) and their potential risk of harm. Samples were collected as part of a citizen science program involving public participation via collection and submission of vacuum dust samples for analysis of their As, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn concentrations. The upper 95% confidence level of the mean values for 224 samples (sieved to <250 μm) were 20.2 mg/kg As, 99.8 mg/kg Cr, 298 mg/kg Cu, 247 mg/kg Mn, 56.7 mg/kg Ni, 364 mg/kg Pb and 2437 mg/kg Zn. The spatial patterns and variations of the metals indicate high homogeneity across Sydney, but with noticeably higher Pb values in the older areas of the city. Potential hazard levels were assessed using United States Environmental Protection Agency's (US EPA) carcinogenic, non-carcinogenic and Integrated Exposure Uptake Biokinetic (IEUBK) model human health risk assessment tools for children and adults. US EPA hazard indexes (HI) for Cr and Pb were higher than the safe level of 1.0 for children. HI > 1 suggests potential non-carcinogenic health effects. Carcinogenic risks were estimated for As, Cr and Pb whose carcinogenic slope factors (CSF) were available. Only the risk factor for Cr exceeded the US EPA's carcinogenic threshold (1 × 104) for children. Children aged 1–2 years had the highest predicted mean child blood lead (PbB) of 4.6 μg/dL, with 19.2% potentially having PbB exceeding 5 μg/dL and 5.80% exceeding 10 μg/dL. The Cr and Pb levels measured in indoor dust therefore pose potentially significant adverse health risks to children.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105125
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironment International
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Household dust
  • Trace metals
  • Human exposure assessment
  • Public health
  • Interventions


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