Particulate matter emissions near active copper smelters and mine tailings in the southwestern United States pose a potential threat to nearby environments owing to toxic species that can be inhaled and deposited in various regions of the body depending on the composition and size of the particles, which are linked by particle hygroscopic properties. This study reports the first simultaneous measurements of size-resolved chemical and hygroscopic properties of particles next to an active copper smelter and mine tailings by the towns of Hayden and Winkelman in southern Arizona. Size-resolved particulate matter samples were examined with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, ion chromatography, and a humidified tandem differential mobility analyzer. Aerosol particles collected at the measurement site are enriched in metals and metalloids (e.g., arsenic, lead, and cadmium) and water-uptake measurements of aqueous extracts of collected samples indicate that the particle diameter range of particles most enriched with these species (0.18-0.55 μm) overlaps with the most hygroscopic mode at a relative humidity of 90% (0.10-0.32 μm). These measurements have implications for public health, microphysical effects of aerosols, and regional impacts owing to the transport and deposition of contaminated aerosol particles.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry