Oxidative stress–inducing effects of various urban PM2.5 road dust on human lung epithelial cells among 10 Chinese megacities

Jian Sun, Jinjin Yu, Zhenxing Shen, Xinyi Niu, Diwei Wang, Xin Wang, Hongmei Xu, Hsiao Chi Chuang, Junji Cao, Kin Fai Ho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


PM2.5 Road dust samples were collected from 10 representative cities in southern and northern China for examination of chemical components and oxidative stress levels in A549 cells. Downtown road dust was abundance of heavy metals, EC and PAHs compared to nondowntown road dust. Source apportionment also revealed the relative higher contribution of vehicle emission to downtown (35.8%) than nondowntown road dust (25.5%). Consequently, downtown road dust induced much higher intracellular reactive oxidative species (ROS) levels than that from nondowntown (p < 0.05). This study highlights that the ROS-inducing capacity of road dust in China is lower at lower latitudes, which resulted in a significantly higher ROS-inducing capacity of road dust from northern cities than southern ones. Hotspot analysis demonstrated that heavy metals (i.e., Cr, Zn, Cu and Pb) in road dust were the most closely associated with ROS production in A549 cells. Vehicle emission and combustion emission in road dust were identified to be correlated with cellular ROS production. The findings highlight the ROS-inducing effect of PM2.5 road dust and also serve as a reference to make the targeted solutions for urban road dust pollution control, especially from a public health perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112680
JournalEcotoxicology and Environmental Safety
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Heavy metal
  • PAH
  • ROS
  • Source apportionment
  • Urban fugitive dust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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