Tracing environmental pollutants and linking exposures in homes, humans, and house sparrows
This thesis explores approaches to the assessment of trace element pollution and exposures in the Australian mining community of Broken Hill with an aim to engage the evolving human and ecological health challenges posed by urban anthropogenic pollution. Trace element sources and distributions are linked to exposures measured within households, habitats and overlapping human and animal populations. Chapter one investigates how geochemical relationships between residential soil and house dust relate to human exposures occurring within and around the home. Trace element concentrations and Pb isotopic compositions revealed significant spatial variability in the exchange of pollutants between outdoor and indoor living spaces, underscoring the importance of assessing exposures throughout the range of environments in which they occur. Chapter two examines how exposures in house sparrows correspond to their environmental sources and to exposures measured amongst co-located children. House sparrow blood trace element concentrations reflected spatial heterogeneity in urban soil pollution and childhood Pb exposures, affirming the potential of this species as a bioindicator of human and ecosystem health. Although markedly different in approach, the outcomes of these assessments each elucidate spatial variability in the sources, transport and fate of trace elements within the environment, and inform the assessment of urban exposures.