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Trace Metals in the St. Louis Aerosol

  • John W Winchester
  • Dennis L Meinert
  • J William Nelson
  • Thomas B Johansson
  • Rene E Van Grieken
  • Celso Orsini
  • Henry C Kaufmann
  • Roland Akselsson
Publishing year: 1974
Language: English
Pages: 385-394
Publication/Series: Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Nuclear Methods in Environmental Research
Document type: Conference paper

Abstract english

The elemental composition of the St. Louis aerosol has been investigated at rooftop sites in south and central locations in the city as part of the August, 1973 field season of the Regional Air Pollution Study of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Sampling by 5-stage cascade impactor with backup filter permits analysis by proton-induced x-ray emission (PIXE) of size fractions of aerodynamic diameter >4, >2m >1, >0.5, >0.25, <0.25µm for elements 16S to 35Br by K x-ray detection and 82Pb by L x-rays. The aerosol study indicates the following: 1. Particle size distributions of S, Cl, K, Ca, Ti, V, Mn, Fe, Cu, Zn, Br, and Pb can be measured in samples from 0.7 m3 of air collected over 12-hour intervals at 1 liter/min flow rate, with precision of single analyses generally 10-30%, except near the nanogram detection limit. 2. Some elements, e.g. Ca, Fe, Ti, K show a tendency for highest concentrations in air measured in largest particle size fractions, and the pattern of distribution of concentration with size is relatively invariant. Predominantly dispersion source processes may account for their entry into the atmosphere. 3. Other elements, e.g. S, Pb, Zn, have substantial proportions of their atmospheric concentrations on smallest particles and show greater variability in particle size distribution patterns, suggesting aerosol formation processes of vapor condensation at high or low temperatures. 4. During 16-22 August 1973 an atmospheric change occurred from a period of low speed and mostly southerly air flow, with evident haze and air pollution, to higher speed and westerly shifting to easterly air flow, with improved visibility and air quality. The change was associated with drops in concentrations of Ti, Fe, Ca, K, and S but not Zn or Pb at the south site and Ti but not the other elements at the central site. Transport of air pollution from industrial sources south of the city is indicated. 5. The central site showed diurnal variation during the first period where concentrations of Ti, Fe, Ca, K, and S were higher in samples taken from midnight to noon than in those from noon to midnight. Variations were greatest for intermediate sized particles.


  • Environmental Health and Occupational Health
  • elemental composition
  • size fraction
  • aerosols
  • cascade impactor
  • air pollution
  • St. Louis
  • PIXE


The Second International Conference on Nuclear Methods in Environmental Research
E-mail: thomas_b [dot] johansson [at] iiiee [dot] lu [dot] se

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