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Determination of trace element concentrations in ambient aerosols by synchrotron radiation-induced X-ray fluorescence spectrometry

Type of publication Not peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (non peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2013
Author Furger Markus, Visser Suzanne,
Project Using trace elements in aerosol samples for source identification
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Original article (non peer-reviewed)

Journal spectroscopy europe
Volume (Issue) 25(3)
Page(s) 11 - 14
Title of proceedings spectroscopy europe

Open Access


Ambient aerosols consist of a wide variety of elements and compounds that can either condense to form clusters and particles up to sizes of tens of micrometres, or that were already abraded from a surface by some mechanical process. These particles remain suspended within the atmosphere for a time that depends on their particle size, weight, solubility and other physical factors. While airborne, they exert an influence on the Earth’s radiation budget and, hence, the Earth’s climate, or they may be inhaled and deposited within the respiratory tract of animals or human beings, where they may have an adverse effect on health. Health effects depend on particle size and chemical composition; larger particles penetrate less deeply into the lung and are more easily removed from the respiratory tract. The connection between particle size and human health has been demonstrated in many studies, but the effect of chemical composition on health is less well known and still remains a subject of study. Apart from aromatic compounds that are carcinogenic, various elements have adverse health effects caused by their toxicity. Such elements are typically found in aerosols, in only trace concentrations and, hence, they are not easy to measure. Nevertheless, a deeper understanding of the concentrations and spatial and temporal distribution of trace elements is required to identify their emission sources and to develop strategies for their reduction and mitigation. In this article, we will discuss the determination of trace element concentrations in ambient aerosols by synchrotron radiation-induced X-ray fluorescence spectrometry.