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Investigation of Desert Dust Contribution to Source Apportionment of PM10 and PM2.5 from a Southern Mediterranean Coast

Category: Aerosol Chemistry and Urban Air Quality

Volume: 15 | Issue: 2 | Pages: 454-464
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2014.10.0255
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Hassen Kchih1,3, Cinzia Perrino2, Semia Cherif 3

  • 1 National Agency for Environmental Protection, 15 road N° 7051, Esslem City, North Center Urban, BP 52, Belvedere, Tunisia
  • 2 CNR - Institute for Atmospheric Pollution Research, Via Salaria Km. 29.300, 00015 - Monterotondo St. Rome, Italy
  • 3 UR Chimie des Matériaux et de l’Environnement UR11ES25, ISSBAT, Université de Tunis El Manar, 9, rue Zouheir Safi, 1006 Tunis, Tunisia


Measurements of mass concentrations and chemical compositions of particulate matters.
Traffic, industrial and dormitory areas are compared for their PM chemistry.
Estimation of sources formulations of PM10 and PM2.5.
Major source of PM10 in Tunis is crustal matter from Sahara desert.
Identification of source apportionments of PM in North Mediterranean coast.


In order to identify the source apportionment of particulate matter PM10 and PM2.5 in the southern Mediterranean coast of Tunis (Tunisia), three different sites characterized respectively by traffic, industries and being an urban background area are studied. The chemical characterization included a gravimetric determination of atmospheric particles mass concentration, measurements of the major anions (SO42–, NO3, Cl) and cations (Ca2+, Mg2+, K+, NH4+) concentrations in the aerosol samples by ion chromatography and analysis of 18 elements by energy dispersion X-ray fluorescence. Aerosol ion balance of various PM10 constituents are used to identify possible sources of the particulate matters. Thanks to these analysis, the particulate masses were reconstructed from the main possible constituents: crustal matter, primary and secondary pollutants, marine aerosols and organic matter. Wherever PM10 and PM2.5 were studied, PM10 crustal elements and sea salt aerosols were mainly associated with the coarse fraction whereas primary and secondary anthropogenic pollutants as well as organic matter rather compose PM2.5 fraction. In all the sites, PM10 mass was mainly composed of crustal matter (41–50%) and poorly of sea salt (3–4%). And so aerosols chemical composition is heavily affected by dust winds from Sahara desert, with some contribution of local traffic and industries and only a slight direct impact of the nearby Mediterranean sea.


Particulate matter (PM) Tunis Source apportionment Chemical characterization ED-XRF analysis

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