Contamination by Coal Dust in the Neighborhood of the Tarragona Harbor (Catalonia, Spain): A Preliminary Study
Joaquim Rovira1, 2, Marta Schuhmacher1, 2, Martí Nadal2, José L. Domingo1, *
1 Laboratory of Toxicology and Environmental Health, School of Medicine, IISPV, Universitat “Rovira i Virgili”, Sant Llorenç 21, 43201 Reus, Catalonia, Spain;
2 Departament d'Enginyeria Química, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Av. Països Catalans 26, 43007 Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain
In February 2017, some buildings of La Pineda (Catalonia, NE Spain) a rather small town, located near to the Tarragona harbor, were affected by a contamination episode that dirtied external walls, windows, doors and floors of these buildings with a black dust. This study was aimed at assessing the origin of the black dust appeared in the buildings.
Black dust samples were collected in the railings of balconies, windows, and exterior doors of two buildings in La Pineda, as well as in the ground of the breakwater of the Tarragona harbor, at few meters from the open air coal storage area. Elemental analysis of the black dust (C, N, H and S) was performed. A daily sample of PM10 was also collected and analyzed for five consecutive days.
The total carbon content of the collected dust was 25.8%, 29.4% and 33.9% in the two buildings of La Pineda and the breakwater, respectively. In turn, the contribution of carbon from carbonates was 0.0%, 1.3% and 5.1%, in the samples of the two buildings and the breakwater, respectively. PM10 showed levels between 18 and 39 µg/m3, with mean and median levels of 29 µg/m3.
The elemental analysis indicated that the two black dust samples collected in the two buildings of La Pineda were similar to the sample collected at the breakwater of the port of Tarragona, showing a common origin: The bulk coal storage area of Tarragona harbor. Because information on the human health risks derived from the important activities conducted in the port of Tarragona is currently non-existent, an exhaustive assessment of all pollutants involved in the activities of the port is strongly recommended.
Keywords: Tarragona harbor, Neighborhood, Environmental impact, Black dust samples, Winds, La Pineda.
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* Address correspondence to this author at the Departament d'Enginyeria Química, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Av. Països Catalans 26, 43007 Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain; Tel: 34 977 759380; E-mail: email@example.com