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Elemental Composition of Ambient Fine Particles in Urban Schools: Sources of Children’s Exposure

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Volume: 14 | Issue: 7 | Pages: 1906-1916
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2014.04.0077
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Leigh R. Crilley1, Godwin A. Ayoko 1, Eduard Stelcer2, David D. Cohen2, Mandana Mazaheri1, Lidia Morawska1

  • 1 International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD, 4001, Australia
  • 2 Institute for Environmental Research, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, Locked Bag 2001, Kirrawee DC, NSW 2232, Australia


Currently, there is a limited understanding of the sources of ambient fine particles that contribute to the exposure of children at urban schools. Since the size and chemical composition of airborne particle are key parameters for determining the source as well as toxicity, PM1 particles (mass concentration of particles with an aerodynamic diameter less than 1 µm) were collected at 24 urban schools in Brisbane, Australia and their elemental compositions determined. Based on the elemental compositions four main sources were identified; secondary sulphates, biomass burning, vehicle and industrial emissions. While secondary sulphates were likely to be a large contributing source by mass, industrial emissions accounted for the most variation in trace metals in the PM1 that children were exposed to at the schools. PM1 concentrations at the schools were compared to the elemental composition of the PM2.5 particles (mass concentration of particles with an aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 µm) from a previous study conducted at a suburban and roadside site in Brisbane. This comparison suggested that the more toxic heavy metals (V, Cr, Ni, Cu, Zn and Pb), mostly from vehicle and industrial emissions, were predominantly in the PM1 fraction. Thus, the results from this study points to PM1 as a potentially good particle size fraction for investigating the health effects of airborne particles. Further work is required to confirm this hypothesis.


Industrial emissions Vehicle emissions PM1 composition Health effects

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