A study on characteristics of atmospheric heavy metals in subway station

Chun Huem Kim, Dong Chul Yoo, Young Min Kwon, Woong Soo Han, Gi Sun Kim, Mi Jung Park, Young Soon Kim, Dalwoong Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, we investigated the atmospheric heavy metal concentrations in the particulate matter inside the subway stations of Seoul. In particular, we examined the correlation between the heavy metals and studied the effect of the heavy metals on cell proliferation. In six selected subway stations in Seoul, particulate matter was captured at the platforms and 11 types of heavy metals were analyzed. The results showed that the mean concentration of iron was the highest out of the heavy metals in particulate matter, followed by copper, potassium, calcium, zinc, nickel, sodium, manganese, magnesium, chromium and cadmium in that order. The correlation analysis showed that the correlations between the heavy metals was highest in the following order: (Cu vs Zn), (Ca vs Na), (Ca vs Mn), (Ni vs Cr), (Na vs Mn), (Cr vs Cd), (Zn vs Cd), (Cu vs Cd), (Ni vs Cd), (Cu vs Ni), (K vs Zn), (Cu vs K), (Cu vs Cr), (K vs Cd), (Zn vs Cr), (K vs Ni), (Zn vs Ni), (K vs Cr), and (Fe vs Cu). The correlation coefficient between zinc and copper was 0.937, indicating the highest correlation. Copper, zinc, nickel, chromium and cadmium, which are generated from artificial sources in general, showed correlations with many of the other metals and the correlation coefficients were also relatively high. The effect of the heavy metals on cell proliferation was also investigated in this study. Cultured cell was exposed to 10 mg/l or 100 mg/l of iron, copper, calcium, zinc, nickel, manganese, magnesium, chromium and cadmium for 24 hours. The cell proliferation in all the heavy metal-treated groups was not inhibited at 10 mg/l of the heavy metal concentration. The only exception to this was with the cadmium-treated group which showed a strong cell proliferation inhibition. This study provides the fundamental data for the understanding of simultaneous heavy metal exposure tendency at the time of particulate matter exposure in subway stations and the identification of heavy metal sources. Moreover, this study can be used as the fundamental data for the cell toxicity study of the subway-oriented heavy metalcontaining particulate matter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-162
Number of pages6
JournalToxicological Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Cell proliferation
  • Concentration
  • Correlation
  • Heavy metal
  • Subway station

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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