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Severe particulate pollution from the deposition practices of the primary materials of a cement plant

Abstract

Global cement production has increased twofold during the last decade. This increase has been accompanied by the installation of many new plants, especially in Southeast Asia. Although various aspects of pollution related to cement production have been reported, the impact of primary material deposition practices on ambient air quality has not yet been studied. In this study, we show that deposition practices can have a very serious impact on levels of ambient aerosols, far larger than other cement production-related impacts. Analyses of ambient particulates sampled near a cement plant show 1.3–30.4 mg/m3 total suspended particulates in the air and concentrations of particles with a diameter of 10 μm or less at 0.04–3 mg/m3. These concentrations are very high and seriously exceed air quality standards. We unequivocally attribute these levels to outdoor deposition of cement primary materials, especially clinker, using scanning electron microscopy/energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. We also used satellite-derived aerosol optical depth maps over the area of study to estimate the extent of the spatial impact. The satellite data indicate a 33 % decrease in aerosol optical depth during a 10-year period, possibly due to changing primary material deposition practices. Although the in situ sampling was performed in one location, primary materials used in cement production are common in all parts of the world and have not changed significantly over the last decades. Hence, the results reported here demonstrate the dominant impact of deposition practices on aerosol levels near cement plants.

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Acknowledgments

The MODIS TERRA C005 level 2 data used in this study were acquired as part of NASA’s Earth–Sun System Division and archived and distributed by the MODIS Adaptive Processing System (MODAPS). The algorithms were developed by the MODIS science teams. A. K. Georgoulias acknowledges the support from the QUADIEEMS project which is co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) and national resources under the Operational Programme Education and Lifelong Learning (EdLL) within the framework of the Action “Supporting Postdoctoral Researchers.”

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Correspondence to K. Kourtidis.

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Responsible editor: Gerhard Lammel

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Kourtidis, K., Rapsomanikis, S., Zerefos, C. et al. Severe particulate pollution from the deposition practices of the primary materials of a cement plant. Environ Sci Pollut Res 21, 9796–9808 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-014-2969-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-014-2969-6

Keywords

  • Cement
  • Ordinary portland cement (OPC)
  • Air pollution
  • Aerosols
  • Aerosol optical depth (AOD)
  • Dust
  • Clinker
  • MODIS