Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 190, Issue 1, pp 13–25

Annual and Seasonal Variations of Trace Metals in Atmospheric Suspended Particulate Matter in Islamabad, Pakistan


DOI: 10.1007/s11270-007-9575-x

Cite this article as:
Shah, M.H. & Shaheen, N. Water Air Soil Pollut (2008) 190: 13. doi:10.1007/s11270-007-9575-x


Total Suspended particulate matter (TSP) in urban atmosphere of Islamabad was collected using a high volume sampling technique for a period of one year. The nitric acid–perchloric acid extraction method was used and the metal contents were estimated by atomic absorption spectrophotometer. The highest mean concentration was found for Ca at 4.531 µg/m3, followed by Na (3.905 µg/m3), Fe (2.464 µg/m3), Zn (2.311 µg/m3), K (2.086 µg/m3), Mg (0.962 µg/m3), Cu (0.306 µg/m3), Sb (0.157 µg/m3), Pb (0.144 µg/m3) and Sr (0.101 µg/m3). On an average basis, the decreasing metal concentration trend was: Ca > Na > Fe > Zn > K > Mg > Cu > Sb > Pb > Sr > Mn > Co > Ni > Cr > Li > Cd ≈ Ag. The TSP levels varied from a minimum of 41.8 to a maximum of 977 µg/m3, with a mean value of 164 µg/m3, which was found to be higher than WHO primary and secondary standards. The correlation study revealed very strong correlations (r > 0.71) between Fe–Mn, Sb–Co, Na–K, Mn–Mg, Pb–Cd and Sb–Sr. Among the meteorological parameters, temperature, wind speed and pan evaporation were found to be positively correlated with TSP, Ca, Fe, K, Mg, Mn and Ag, whereas, they exhibited negative relationships with relative humidity. On the other hand, Pb, Sb, Zn, Co, Cd and Li revealed significant positive correlations with relative humidity and negative with temperature, wind speed and pan evaporation. The major sources of airborne trace metals identified with the help of principle component analysis and cluster analysis were industrial emissions, automobile exhaust, biomass burning, oil combustion, fugitive emissions, resuspended soil dust and earth crust. The TSP and selected metals were also studied for seasonal variations, which showed that Na, K, Zn, Cu, Pb, Sb, Sr, Co and Cd peaked during the winter and remained lowest during the summer, while Ca, Fe, Mg and Mn were recorded highest during the spring.


AASCluster analysisMeteorological variationsPrincipal component analysisSeasonal variationsTSPTrace metals

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryQuaid-i-Azam UniversityIslamabadPakistan