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Keywords:

  • Air pollution;
  • inhalation;
  • modeling;
  • multiple pathway

Three modeling systems were used to estimate human health risks from air pollution: two versions of MNRiskS (for Minnesota Risk Screening), and the USEPA National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA). MNRiskS is a unique cumulative risk modeling system used to assess risks from multiple air toxics, sources, and pathways on a local to a state-wide scale. In addition, ambient outdoor air monitoring data were available for estimation of risks and comparison with the modeled estimates of air concentrations. Highest air concentrations and estimated risks were generally found in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area and lowest risks in undeveloped rural areas. Emissions from mobile and area (nonpoint) sources created greater estimated risks than emissions from point sources. Highest cancer risks were via ingestion pathway exposures to dioxins and related compounds. Diesel particles, acrolein, and formaldehyde created the highest estimated inhalation health impacts. Model-estimated air concentrations were generally highest for NATA and lowest for the AERMOD version of MNRiskS. This validation study showed reasonable agreement between available measurements and model predictions, although results varied among pollutants, and predictions were often lower than measurements. The results increased confidence in identifying pollutants, pathways, geographic areas, sources, and receptors of potential concern, and thus provide a basis for informing pollution reduction strategies and focusing efforts on specific pollutants (diesel particles, acrolein, and formaldehyde), geographic areas (urban centers), and source categories (nonpoint sources). The results heighten concerns about risks from food chain exposures to dioxins and PAHs. Risk estimates were sensitive to variations in methodologies for treating emissions, dispersion, deposition, exposure, and toxicity.