Environmental Earth Sciences

, 75:264 | Cite as

Anthropogenic particle dispersions in topsoils of the Middle Nile Delta: a preliminary study on the contamination around industrial and commercial areas in Egypt

  • Atef M. Abu KhatitaEmail author
  • Helga de Wall
  • Roman Koch
Original Article


Increased industrialization has adversely affected various components of the environment including soil, which is the ultimate site of settling and accumulation of fly ash. Fine respirable size particles in the atmosphere are detrimental to human health and their ultimate accumulation in the soil leads to soil pollution. In this study, these particles were identified, quantified and subjected to intensive analysis by SEM/EDX. Accordingly, the physical and chemical characteristics, the origin and the pathway of such particulates are documented for the Middle Nile Delta using the magnetic susceptibility as proxy for the industrial emissions. The average bulk density of magnetic spherules varies between 4.4 ± 0.7, 4.8 ± 0.9 and 5.4 ± 0.6 g/cm3 for the >125, 63–125 and 36–63 μm fractions, respectively, and consists predominantly of iron oxides with variable amounts of Ti, Si, Mn, Mg, Al, Ca, Cr and Cu. Their attached grains and adhesive materials are commonly composed of various contents of Si, Al, Fe, Ca, P, Zn, Ba and S depending on their origin. The results indicated that most surface soil samples are enhanced magnetically than the natural local background magnetic signal due to atmospherically deposited urban dust. The industrial sites are characterized by highest average magnetic susceptibility value (47 × 10−5 m3g−1) combined with highest concentration of magnetic spherules (66 sph.g−1). Moreover, the residential area surrounding industrial zones—particularly those located in the windblown (SE) direction—is seriously affected by industrial dust. This study provides a database to evolve strategies for remedial measures to minimize environmental degradation.


Urban dust Nile Delta Magnetic susceptibility Anthropogenic particles Magnetic spherules 



The first author gratefully acknowledges a grant by the Egyptian mission (Higher Education Ministry) during his stay at the FAU in Germany. The staff at GZN and Dr. Jürgen Göske (Zentrum für Werkstoffanalytik, Lauf) is thanked for their assistance in laboratory work. K. Christenson is thanked for the language revision. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Atef M. Abu Khatita
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Helga de Wall
    • 2
  • Roman Koch
    • 2
  1. 1.Geology DepartmentAl Azhar UniversityCairoEgypt
  2. 2.GeoZentrum NordbayernUniversität Erlangen-NürnbergErlangenGermany

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