Very fine and ultrafine metals and ischemic heart disease in the California central valley 1: 2003-2007

Thomas A. Cahill, David E. Barnes, Nicholas J. Spada, Jonathan A. Lawton, Thomas Cahill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The enhancement of mortality associated with cardiovascular and specifically ischemic heart disease (IHD) has been observed in the southern California Central Valley since at least 1990, and it continues to be a major source of mortality. While there is a strong statistical association of IHD with wintertime PM2.5 mass, the causal agents are uncertain. Medical studies identify some potential causal agents, such as very fine and ultrafine metals, but they have not been fully characterized in most Central Valley regions. To provide improved information on specific and potentially causal agents, a five site aerosol sampling transect was conducted from Redding to Bakersfield during a 17-day period of strong stagnation, January 5-22, 2009. Mass and elemental components were measured every 3 h in eight particle size modes, ranging from 10 to 0.09 μm, while the ultrafine particles (<0.09 μm) were collected on Teflon filters. Ancillary studies were performed including direct upwind-downwind profiles across a heavily traveled secondary street near a stoplight. Very fine and ultrafine iron, nickel, copper, and zinc were identified as vehicular, with the most probable sources being brake drums and pads and the lubrication oil additive zinc thiophosphate. High correlations, many with r2 > 0.9, were found between these vehicular metals and IHD mortality, enhanced by the meteorology, terrain, and traffic patterns of the southern Central Valley. The braking systems of cars and trucks must now be considered along with direct exhaust emissions in estimating the health impacts from traffic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1123-1134
Number of pages12
JournalAerosol Science and Technology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Pollution


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