Heavy metals content in ashes of wood pellets and the health risk assessment related to their presence in the environment

Sci Rep. 2021 Sep 9;11(1):17952. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-97305-4.


Efforts to reduce air pollution in developing countries may require increased use of biomass fuels. Even biomass fuels are a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels there is limited quantitative information concerning heavy metal content in their ashes. Therefore, this study focuses on the determination of the heavy metal concentrations in wood pellet ash obtained from the combustion of 10 pellet brans from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Italy, the effects of adding the ashes to soils, and the assessment of health risk assessment. Ash content was determined by gravimetric method. The amount and composition of ash remaining after combustion of wood pellets varies considerably according to the type of biomass and wood from which the pellet is made. Samples were prepared by wet digestion using HNO3, and heavy metals are determined by atomic absorption spectroscopy-flame and graphite furnace. The results showed that the lowest concentration in ashes was obtained for Co 0.01 mg kg-1 and the highest for Fe 571.63 mg kg-1. The Hazard Index (HI), calculated for non-cancerous substances for children was 2.23E-01, and the total Risk index was 4.54E-05. As for adults, HI was 1.51E-02, while the Risk index value was 3.21E-06. Human health risk calculated through HI and Risk index for children and adults associated with analyzed pellets is not of significant concern. The calculated enrichment factor and metal pollution index for wood pellet ashes indicate the risk of soil contamination with heavy metals. From this point of view, analyzed samples of ashes could be a serious contaminant of soil, so further monitoring is required.

PMID:34504178 | PMC:PMC8429764 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-021-97305-4


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