Variation of Elemental Composition with Particle Size in the St. Louis Aerosol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Detailed particle size distribution of elemental constituents have been determined in the St. Louis aerosol by sampling with cascade impactors for particles >0.25 μm aerodynamic diameter and by analyzing using proton-induced X-ray emission, PIXE, for S, Cl, K, Ca, Ti, Mn, Fe, Zn, Br, and Pb. Two rooftop sites were selected for intensive sampling in industrial and residential locations in St. Louis during February 1974, every 12 h for a 7 d period which included clear, rainy, and snowy weather regimes. The data could be compared with the results of a similar study of the St. Louis aerosol during August 1973 when the weather was generally warm and without rain. Both data sets could also be compared with results of studies of Tallahassee, situated in coastal north Florida, and the north Atlantic marine atmosphere of Bermuda. Although variation in elemental concentrations and their size distributions were observed which could be associated with local weather conditions during the February sampling period, the data set was sufficiently large for meaningful average characteristics to be computed. As examples, two elements of pollution importance, sulfur and iron, show the following comparison between St. Louis and the Florida and Atlantic locations: Sulfur in all data sets was most abundant in the smallest particle size classes. Winter and summer concentration in St. Louis air were the same within a factor of two but generally exceeded north Florida concentrations. Bermuda concentrations were intermediate between St. Louis and north Florida, except for largest particles where sea spray derived material was present. The results reflect the importance of gas phase conversion to particulate forms of sulfur, e.g. sulfate, in all three locations. Iron concentrations in St. Louis generally exceeded those in north Florida for smallest particles and to a lesser extent for larger sizes. Concentrations in Bermuda were about 10-fold lower than in St. Louis for all particle sizes. The results reflect the terrestrial dust origin of iron and also suggest that iron is partially pollution-derived in the St. Louis atmosphere, especially in smaller size ranges.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Environmental Health and Occupational Health


  • urban aerosols, elemental composition, size fractions
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-96
JournalNuclear Instruments & Methods in Physics Research. Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors, and Associated Equipment
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1977
Publication categoryResearch