Characterization of atmospheric particles: analysis of particles in the Campo de Gibraltar

A. UMBRIA, M. GALÁN, M. J. MUÑOZ, R. MARTÍN

Abstract

Campo de Gibraltar is a highly industrialized area situated in the South of Spain around Algeciras bay (36º 7’N, 5º27’W). This area has an advantageous situation from a geographical, geological and botanical points of view. However, high wind speeds and a substantial degree of turbulence characterize this area, a situation that contributes to the rapid and wide dispersion of atmospheric pollutants and natural particles that are emitted in the atmosphere. The work described here involved the use of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and X-ray Dispersive Energy Spectrometry (EDX) to characterize the atmospheric particles (both natural and anthropogenic). The electron microscopy method provides, simultaneously, knowledge about the morphology and the chemical composition of the particles. These are the fundamental parameters that need to be investigated to determine the origin of the particles. A systematic method has been developed that is applicable to the study of particles collected in emission sources, as well as to particles collected in inmission stations. This simple method allows the origin of the particles to be determined. Finally, a general classification of particles has been devised in terms of their physical and chemical characteristics, including morphology, surface characteristics and elementary composition.

Keywords

Particulate matter; anthropogenic and natural sources; morphological and chemical analysis; south-western Mediterranean

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