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Environ Technol. 2010 Apr 14;31(5):467-77. doi: 10.1080/09593330903513260.

Total reflection X-ray fluorescence (TXRF) for direct analysis of aerosol particle samples.

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Chemistry for Technologies Laboratory, University of Brescia, via Branze 38, 25123 Brescia, Italy.


Atmospheric aerosol particles have a great impact on the environment and on human health. Routine analysis of the particles usually involves only the mass determination. However, chemical composition and phases provide fundamental information about the particles' origins and can help to prevent health risks. For example, these particles may contain heavy metals such as Pb, Ni and Cd, which can adversely affect human health. In this work, filter samples were collected in Brescia, an industrial town located in Northern Italy. In order to identify the chemical composition and the phases of the atmospheric aerosols, the samples were analysed by means of total reflection X-ray fluorescence (TXRF) spectrometry with a laboratory instrument and X-ray microdiffraction at Synchrotron Daresbury Laboratories, Warrington (Cheshire, UK). The results are discussed and correlated to identify possible pollution sources. The novelty of this analytical approach is that filter samples for TXRF were analysed directly and did not require chemical pretreatment to leach elements from the aerosol particulates. The results of this study clearly show that TXRF is a powerful technique for the analysis of atmospheric aerosols on 'as-received' filters, thereby leaving samples intact and unaltered for possible subsequent analyses by other methods. In addition, the low detection limits for many elements (low ng/cm2) indicate that this method may hold promise in various application fields, such as nanotechnology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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