Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 19, Issue 8, pp 3389–3399 | Cite as

Origin and distribution of trace elements in high-elevation precipitation in southern China

  • Jie Zhou
  • Yan Wang
  • Taixing Yue
  • Yuhua Li
  • Ka-Ming Wai
  • Wenxing Wang
Research Article



During a 2009 investigation of the transport and deposition of trace elements in southern China, 37 event-based precipitation samples were collected at an observatory on Mount Heng, China (1,269 m asl).


Concentrations of trace elements were analyzed using inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry and the wet deposition fluxes were established. A combination of techniques including enrichment factor analysis, principal component analysis, and back trajectory models were used to identify pollutant sources.


Trace element concentrations at Mount Heng were among the highest with respect to measured values reported elsewhere. All elements were of non-marine origin. The elements Pb, As, Cu, Se, and Cd were anthropogenic, while Fe, Cr, V, Ba, Mn, and Ni were of mixed crustal/anthropogenic origin. The crustal and anthropogenic contributions of trace elements were 12.8 % (0.9 ~ 17.4 %) and 87.2 % (82.6 ~ 99.1 %), with the maximum crustal fraction being 17.4 % for Fe. Coal combustion, soil and road dust, metallurgical processes, and industrial activities contributed to the element composition.


Summit precipitation events were primarily distant in origin. Medium- to long-range transport of trace elements from the Yangtze River Delta and northern China played an important role in wet deposition at Mount Heng, while air masses from south or southeast of the station were generally low in trace element concentrations.


Trace element Mount Heng Sources Long-range transport South China Yangtze River Delta Pearl River Delta 



This work was supported by the China National Basic Research Program under grant 2005CB422203 and by funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41075092). The authors gratefully acknowledge the NOAA Air Resources Laboratory (ARL) for the provision of the HYSPLIT transport and dispersion model and/or READY website ( used in this publication. Special thanks are given to the Mount Heng Meteorological Station for the support of the field study and providing surface meteorological data. We are grateful to Dr. Wang Tao, Dr. Fan Shaojia, Mr. Wang Xinfeng, Mr. Nie Wei, Mr. Li Penghui, Mr. Sun Minghu, Ms. Gao Xiaomei, and Ms. Guo Jia for their help in sample collection and analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jie Zhou
    • 1
  • Yan Wang
    • 1
  • Taixing Yue
    • 2
  • Yuhua Li
    • 1
  • Ka-Ming Wai
    • 3
  • Wenxing Wang
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Environmental Science and EngineeringShandong UniversityJinanChina
  2. 2.Environmental Monitoring Central Station of Shandong ProvinceJinanChina
  3. 3.Department of Biology and ChemistryCity University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  4. 4.Environment Research InstituteShandong UniversityJinanChina

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