Metal Concentrations and Soluble Iron Speciation in Fine Particulate Matter from Light Rail Activity in the Denver-metropolitan Area

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Chemistry and Biochemistry


PM2.5, Elemental concentration, Soluble elements, Iron speciation, ICP–MS


Fine particulate matter samples (PM2.5) were collected from three locations around the Denver–Metropolitan area to study the impacts of the ground–level light rail on airborne metal concentrations. Size–segregated PM was collected on board the trains, at the side of the tracks, and at a background location in downtown Denver. Results from this study showed highest crustal enrichment factors of metals in samples collected on board the train, despite lower concentrations of total PM2.5. Metals commonly found in steel such as Fe, Cr, Mn, and Ni, all exhibited elevated concentrations relating to train activity over the background site. Iron in the PM2.5 at track–side and on board the trains was above the background by a factor of 1.89 and 1.54, respectively. For Mn, the ratios were 1.34 for the track–side and 0.94 for the on board samples. Cr and Ni exhibited higher ratios over the background only in samples collected on board the trains at 1.59 (Cr) and 1.26 (Ni). Soluble metals were measured with Ni (53–71%), Cu (52–81%), and Zn (30–81%) exhibiting the highest solubilities across the different sites. Soluble Fe ranged from 8–15% for the total measured Fe, indicating a non–crustal source of Fe. Soluble Fe was also characterized as Fe(II) and Fe(III) with 87–90% of the soluble Fe being Fe(II), similar to results from studies in Los Angeles, CA and East St. Louis, IL but higher than in Atlanta, GA and Waukesha, WI.

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