web stats
Selected Development Project
Project Title

Health Risk Assessment of Toxic Trace Elements and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) Via Indoor Dust from Coal-burning Households in Rural China

Principal Investigator Prof. WONG Ming Hung
Area of Research Project
Social Development
Project Period
From 06/2013 To 06/2016
  • To investigate spatial and seasonal characteristics of toxic trace elements (As, Cr, Ni, Pb, F, Hg) and PAHs (Nitro-PAHs and OH-PAHs) in indoor air (PM and indoor dusts) collected  in coal-burning households in rural China;
  • To study the body loadings of the above contaminants, based on hair analyses of occupants, and their relationships with indoor pollution.
  • To evaluate health risks based on (1) toxic effects or indoor dust on human cell line. And (2) their mutagenicity as Ames test.
Methods Used

Investigations (questionnaires, sample collection and analysis of toxic trace elements and PAHs) will be conducted in five study areas:

  • (1) Xuanwei County, Yunnan Province — Lung cancer epidemic area due to indoor smoky (bituminous) coal combustion;
  • (2) Guiding County, Guizhou Province and (3) Ankang County, Shaanxi Province — Rural households using coal as their primary source of domestic energy;
  • (4) Beijing and (5) Hong Kong — Urban households which primarily use liquefied petroleum gas, natural gas or electricity for cooking and heating (as control).
Summary of Findings
  • Air/dust samples collected in coal-burning households of rural area (1) possessed significantly higher concentrations of toxic trace elements and PAHs; and (2) imposed more severe health risks based on calculations of cancer and non-cancer risks, than those of urban households.
  • Human hair served as a good and non-invasive indicator due to the close associations of   contaminants (PAHs and Hg) in carefully washed hair and air/dust samples.
To enhance our understanding of the status of indoor air pollution (toxic trace elements and PAHs) in households using coals in rural China
  •  It is envisaged that this project will be of great importance for designing and evaluating environmental health interventions for indoor air pollution.

1. Wang W: Wu FY, Zheng JS, Wong MH*2013. Risk assessments of PAHs and Hg exposure via settled house dust and street dust, linking with their correlations in human hair. J Hazard Mater, 263: 627-637.

2. Huang MJ, Chen XW, Shao DD, Zhao YG, Wang W, Wong MH* 2014. Risk assessment of arsenic and other metals via atmospheric particles, and effects of atmospheric exposure and other demographic factors on their accumulations in human scalp hair in urban area of Guangzhou, China. Ecotox Environ Safe, 102: 84-92.

3. Huang MJ, Chen XW, Zhao YG, Chan CY, Wang W, Wang XM, Wong MH* 2014. Arsenic speciation in total contents and bioaccessible fractions in atmospheric particles related to human intakes. Environ Pollut, 188: 37-44.

Biography of Principal Investigator

BSc (CUHK), MSc, PhD, Dsc (Durham), MBA, DSc (Strathclyde)

Prof. Wong Ming Hung is the Research Chair Professor in the Department of Science and Environmental Studies at the Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd). He received his PhD at Durham University in UK. He went on to further obtain the Dsc degree in Durham University and University of Strathclyde. The DSc Degree is regarded as a higher doctoral degree (higher than PhD) in British/European Tertiary Institutions, based on quality and quantity of papers published by the candidate.

Prof. Wong served as Head of Biology in Hong Kong Baptist University for 18 years, where he initiated the BSc (Hon) Course in Applied Biology and Environmental Science, through validation and revalidation. The Department of Biology has become one of the strongest departments in Hong Kong in the field of “Environmental Science/Biology” (based on Research Assessments of Research Grants Council of Hong Kong). During the time, he received the first Chair Professor awarded to an academic staff at HKBU (1990), after vigorous assessment (included the blind assessment conducted by the Commonwealth University Association, UK).

Professor Wong has published over 550 SCI papers and 32 book chapters, edited 25 books/special issues of scientific journals, and has successfully filed 5 patents. Based on citation of papers and H-index (for the past ten years, on July 2009), Prof. Wong ranked No. 1 of the Top 20 World Chinese Scientists under the area of Environmental Science/Ecology. The information prepared by the Ministry of Organization of Central Committee of Communist Party of China (中共中央組織部) is intended for use as a reference for recruiting overseas talent throughout China. Currently, he is the most cited Chinese scientist in the world, in the area of Environmental Science, according to ISI Web of Science.

Funding Source

National Natural Science Foundation of China/ RGC Joint Research Scheme