Profiling and potential cancer risk assessment on children exposed to PAHs in playground dust/soil: a comparative study on poured rubber surfaced and classical soil playgrounds in Seoul

Abhrajyoti Tarafdar, Min Ju Oh, Quynh Nguyen-Phuong, Jung-Hwan Kwon

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Children can get affected by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) while they interact with play area soil/rubber surfacing and exposed to PAHs by dermal contact, inhalation and hand-to-mouth activity. A comparative study has been conducted on PAHs profiling and probable cancer risk of children from PAHs present in uncovered playground surface soil and poured rubber surfaced playground dust. Surface soil and dust samples have been collected from 14 different children parks around the Korea University campus, Seoul, Republic of Korea. Concentrations of 16 PAHs in the soils/dust were found to be in a range of 2.82–57.93 μg g−1. Profiling of the PAHs from the playground soils/dust reveals 3-ring PAHs are dominating with 79.9% of total PAHs content, on an average. The diagnostic ratio analysis confirms that vehicular exhaust and fossil fuel burning are likely the main sources of high molecular weight carcinogenic PAHs, whereas low molecular weight PAHs have pyrogenic origin. The probabilistic health risk assessment using Monte Carlo simulations for the estimation of the 95% cancer risk exposed to the PAHs from the surfaced playgrounds shows a little higher value than the USEPA safety standard (1.3 × 10−5). Sensitivity analysis revealed exposure duration and relative skin adherence factor for soil as the most influential parameters of the assessment. Noticeably, cancer risk is approximately 10 times higher in poured rubber surfaced playgrounds than in uncovered soil playgrounds.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental geochemistry and health
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019 Jan 1



  • Cancer risk assessment
  • Children playground
  • Monte Carlo simulation
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Poured rubber surfacing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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