, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 585-599
Date: 31 May 2011

Air quality and elemental enrichment factors of aerosol particulate matter in Riyadh City, Saudi Arabia

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Air particulate matter (PM) samples were collected from June 2006 to May 2007 for determination of chemical elements. PM samples were taken in two size fractions (PM2.5 and PM10) with MiniVolume air samplers on rooftops of various buildings (15–25 m above ground) in the city of Riyadh. The samples were subjected to X-ray fluorescence analysis to measure major (Na, Mg, Al, K, Ca, Si, P, S, and Fe) and trace elements (Mn, Ni, Cu, Zn, and Ba). The results showed that the PM concentrations were higher for PM10 compared to PM2.5, indicating that the major PM source was local dust. Also the spatial distribution with high PM concentrations was observed in the south and southeast of the city and the lowest levels were in the center and northeast of the city. This spatial distribution was attributed to different factors such as wind direction and velocity, emission from cement factories, and the presence of buildings, trees, and paved streets that reduce the amount of dust resuspended into the atmosphere. The air quality of the city was found to range from good to hazardous based on PM2.5, and from good to very hazardous based on PM10. The element-enrichment factors revealed two element groups according to their changing spatial behavior. The first group showed no significant spatial changes indicating they have the same common source. The second group (mainly S and Ni) exhibited significant changes as expected from anthropogenic inputs. The origin of S is possibly a combination of minerals (CaSO4) and fossil fuel combustion. The source of Ni is probably from fossil fuel combustion.