Oxidative potential (OP) and mineralogy of iron ore particulate matter at the Gol-E-Gohar Mining and Industrial Facility (Iran)


Concentrations of total suspended particulate matter, particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter <2.5 μm (PM2.5), particulate matter <10 μm (PM10), and fallout dust were measured at the Iranian Gol-E-Gohar Mining and Industrial Facility. Samples were characterized in terms of mineralogy, morphology, and oxidative potential. Results show that indoor samples exceeded the 24-h PM2.5 and PM10 mass concentration limits (35 and 150 µg m−3, respectively) set by the US National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Calcite, magnetite, tremolite, pyrite, talc, and clay minerals such as kaolinite, vermiculite, and illite are the major phases of the iron ore PM. Accessory minerals are quartz, dolomite, hematite, actinolite, biotite, albite, nimite, laumontite, diopside, and muscovite. The scanning electron microscope structure of fibrous-elongated minerals revealed individual fibers in the range of 1.5 nm to 71.65 µm in length and 0.2 nm to 3.7 µm in diameter. The presence of minerals related to respiratory diseases, such as talc, crystalline silica, and needle-shaped minerals like amphibole asbestos (tremolite and actinolite), strongly suggests the need for detailed health-based studies in the region. The particulate samples show low to medium oxidative potential per unit of mass, in relation to an urban road side control, being more reactive with ascorbate than with glutathione or urate. However, the PM oxidative potential per volume of air is exceptionally high, confirming that the workers are exposed to a considerable oxidative environment. PM released by iron ore mining and processing activities should be considered a potential health risk to the mine workers and nearby employees, and strategies to combat the issue are suggested.

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