Risk-based evaluation of the exposure of children to trace elements in playgrounds in Madrid (Spain)

E. De Miguel, I. Iribarren, E. Chacón, S. Charlesworth, A Ordonez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

501 Citations (Scopus)


Eighty samples of sandy substrate were collected in November 2002 and 2003, from 20 municipal playgrounds in Madrid (Spain) to assess the potential adverse health effects of the exposure of children to trace elements in this material during their games. In each playground, two 500 g samples were collected, dried at 45 °C for 48 h, sieved below 100 μm, acid digested and analyzed by ICP-MS. Doses contacted through ingestion and inhalation and the dose absorbed through the skin were calculated using USEPAs hourly exposure parameters for children and the results of an in situ survey. The toxicity values considered in this study were mostly taken from the US DoEs RAIS compilation. The results of the risk assessment indicate that the highest risk is associated with ingestion of soil particles and that the trace element of most concern is arsenic, the exposure to which results in a cancer risk value of 4.19 × 10−6, close to the 1 × 10−5 probability level deemed unacceptable by most regulatory agencies. Regarding non-cancer effects, exposure to playground substrate yields an aggregate Hazard Index of 0.28, below the threshold value of 1 (with As, again, as the largest single contributor, followed by Pb, Cr, Al and Mn). Although the uncertainties associated with the estimates of toxicity values and exposure factors should be reduced before any definite conclusions regarding potential health effects are drawn, risk assessment has proven to be a very useful tool to identify the contaminants and exposure pathways of most concern in urban environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-513
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Early online date17 Jul 2006
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007


  • Risk assessment
  • Urban
  • Soil
  • Park
  • Metals
  • Arsenic


Dive into the research topics of 'Risk-based evaluation of the exposure of children to trace elements in playgrounds in Madrid (Spain)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this