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J Environ Monit. 2010 Apr;12(4):854-62. doi: 10.1039/b925439k. Epub 2010 Feb 15.

Concentrations, sources and geochemistry of airborne particulate matter at a major European airport.

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Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA), Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), c/Jordi Girona 18-26, Barcelona, Spain.


Monitoring of aerosol particle concentrations (PM(10), PM(2.5), PM(1)) and chemical analysis (PM(10)) was undertaken at a major European airport (El Prat, Barcelona) for a whole month during autumn 2007. Concentrations of airborne PM at the airport were close to those at road traffic hotspots in the nearby Barcelona city, with means measuring 48 microg PM(10)/m(3), 21 microg PM(2.5)/m(3) and 17 microg PM(1)/m(3). Meteorological controls on PM at El Prat are identified as cleansing daytime sea breezes with abundant coarse salt particles, alternating with nocturnal land-sourced winds which channel air polluted by industry and traffic (PM(1)/PM(10) ratios > 0.5) SE down the Llobregat Valley. Chemical analyses of the PM(10) samples show that crustal PM is dominant (38% of PM(10)), followed by total carbon (OC + EC, 25%), secondary inorganic aerosols (SIA, 20%), and sea salt (6%). Local construction work for a new airport terminal was an important contributor to PM(10) crustal levels. Source apportionment modelling PCA-MLRA identifies five factors: industrial/traffic, crustal, sea salt, SIA, and K(+) likely derived from agricultural biomass burning. Whereas most of the atmospheric contamination concerning ambient air PM(10) levels at El Prat is not attributable directly to aircraft movement, levels of carbon are unusually high (especially organic carbon), as are metals possibly sourced from tyre detritus/smoke in runway dust (Ba, Zn, Mo) and from brake dust in ambient PM(10) (Cu, Sb), especially when the airport is at its most busy. We identify microflakes of aluminous alloys in ambient PM(10) filters derived from corroded fuselage and wings as an unequivocal and highly distinctive tracer for aircraft movement.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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