First long-term and near real-time measurement of trace elements in China's urban atmosphere: temporal variability, source apportionment and precipitation effect

Yunhua Chang, Kan Huang, Mingjie Xie, Congrui Deng, Zhong Zou, Shoudong Liu, Yanlin Zhang
2018 Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics  
<p><strong>Abstract.</strong> Atmospheric trace elements, especially metal species, are an emerging environmental and health concern with insufficient understanding of their levels and sources in Shanghai, the most important industrial megacity in China. Here we continuously performed a 1 year (from March 2016 to February 2017) and hourly resolved measurement of 18 elements in fine particles (PM<sub>2.5</sub>) at the Shanghai urban center with an Xact multi-metals monitor and several collocated
more » ... several collocated instruments. Mass concentrations (mean<span class="thinspace"></span>±<span class="thinspace"></span>1<i>σ</i>; ng<span class="thinspace"></span>m<sup>−3</sup>) determined by Xact ranged from detection limits (nominally 0.1 to 20<span class="thinspace"></span>ng<span class="thinspace"></span>m<sup>−3</sup>) to 15<span class="thinspace"></span>µg<span class="thinspace"></span>m<sup>−3</sup>. Element-related oxidized species comprised an appreciable fraction of PM<sub>2.5</sub> during all seasons, accounting for 8.3<span class="thinspace"></span>% on average. As a comparison, the atmospheric elements concentration level in Shanghai was comparable with that in other industrialized cities in East Asia but 1 or 2 orders of magnitude higher than at sites in North America and Europe. Positive matrix factorization (PMF) was applied to identify and apportion the sources of the elements in the PM<sub>2.5</sub> mass. Five different factors were resolved (notable elements and relative contribution in parentheses): traffic-related (Ca, Fe, Ba, Si; 46<span class="thinspace"></span>%), shipping (V, Ni; 6<span class="thinspace"></span>%), nonferrous metal smelting (Ag, Cd, Au; 15<span class="thinspace"></span>%), coal combustion (As, Se, Hg, Pb; 18<span class="thinspace"></span>%) and ferrous metal smelting (Cr, Mn, Zn; 15<span class="thinspace"></span>%). The contribution from the exhaust and non-exhaust vehicle emissions, i.e., the traffic-related factor shows a strong bimodal diurnal profile with average concentration over 2 times higher during the rush hour than during nighttime. The shipping factor was firmly identified because V and Ni, two recognized tracers of shipping emissions, are almost exclusively transported from the East China Sea and their ratio (around 3.2) falls within the variation range of V<span class="thinspace"></span>∕<span class="thinspace"></span>Ni ratios in particles emitted from heavy oil combustion. Interestingly, nearly half of the K was derived from coal combustion with high mineral affinity (elements associated with aluminosilicates, carbonates and other minerals in coal ash). The contributions of nonferrous metal smelting to the trace elements are consistent with a newly developed emission inventory. Although the precipitation scavenging effect on the mass concentration of the trace elements varied among different species and sources, precipitation could effectively lower the concentration of the traffic- and coal combustion-related trace elements. Therefore, water spray to simulate natural types of precipitation could be one of the abatement strategies to facilitate the reduction of ambient PM<sub>2.5</sub> trace elements in the urban atmosphere. Collectively, our findings in this study provide baseline levels and sources of trace elements with high detail, which are needed for developing effective control strategies to reduce the high risk of acute exposure to atmospheric trace elements in China's megacities.</p>
doi:10.5194/acp-18-11793-2018 fatcat:t4caas6vuvd7reqzyojim6lzrm