Levels, spatial distribution, risk assessment, and sources of environmental contamination vectored by road dust in Cienfuegos (Cuba) revealed by chemical and C and N stable isotope compositions
Road dust is an indicator widely used when monitoring contamination and evaluating environmental and health risks in urban ecosystems. We conducted an exhaustive characterization of road dust samples coupling their chemical characteristics and stable isotope compositions (C and N) with the aim of evaluating the levels and spatial distribution of local contamination as well as to identify its main source(s) in the coastal city of Cienfuegos (Cuba). Results indicate that the concentrations of several elements(total nitrogen, S, Ca, V, Cu, Zn, Mo, Sn, Hg, and Pb) exceed the background values reported for both Cuban soils and the upper continental crust (UCC) and showed high variability among the sampling sites. We show that road dust contamination in Cienfuegos induces high associated ecological risks. Among the studied elements, Cd and Hg are the major contributors to environmental contamination in the city, mainly along busy roads and downtown.¿13Cand¿15N, coupled to a multivariate statistical analysis, help associate the studied elements to several local sources of contamination: mineral matter derived from local soils, cement plant and related activities, road pavement alteration, power plant, road traffic, and resuspension of particulate organic matter (POM). Our results suggest that incorporating the chemical and isotope monitoring of road dust may help implement more effective environmental management measures in order to reduce their adverse impact on ecosystems.