Skip to main content

Chemical characterization of fine aerosols in respect to water-soluble ions at the eastern Middle Adriatic coast


Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations at the Middle Adriatic coastal site of Croatia were affected by different air-mass inflows and/or local sources and meteorological conditions, and peaked in summer. More polluted continental air-mass inflows mostly affected the area in the winter period, while southern marine pathways had higher impact in spring and summer. Chemical characterization of the water-soluble inorganic and organic ionic constituents is discussed with respect to seasonal trends, possible sources, and air-mass inputs. The largest contributors to the PM2.5 mass were sea salts modified by the presence of secondary sulfate-rich aerosols indicated also by principal component analysis. SO42− was the prevailing anion, while the anthropogenic SO42− (anth-nssSO42−) dominantly constituted the major non-sea-salt SO42− (nssSO42−) fraction. Being influenced by the marine origin, its biogenic fraction (bio-nssSO42−) increased particularly in the spring. During the investigated period, aerosols were generally acidic. High Cl deficit was observed at Middle Adriatic location for which the acid displacement is primarily responsible. With nssSO42− being dominant in Cl depletion, sulfur-containing species from anthropogenic pollution emissions may have profound impact on atmospheric composition through altering chlorine chemistry in this region. However, when accounting for the neutralization of H2SO4 by NH3, the potential of HNO3 and organic acids to considerably influence Cl depletion is shown to increase. Intensive open-fire events substantially increased the PM2.5 concentrations and changed the water-soluble ion composition and aerosol acidity in summer of 2015. To our knowledge, this work presents the first time-resolved data evaluating the seasonal composition of water-soluble ions and their possible sources in PM2.5 at the Middle Adriatic area. This study contributes towards a better understanding of atmospheric composition in the coastal Adriatic area and serves as a basis for the comparison with future studies related to the air quality at the coastal Adriatic and/or Mediterranean regions.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7


Download references


The authors also acknowledge Jadranka Škevin Sović, Ana Šutić and Ivona Igrec from Croatian Meteorological and Hydrological Service for gravimetric measurements.


The authors acknowledge the financial support from the projects “The Sulphur and Carbon Dynamics in the Sea and Fresh-Water Environment” (IP-11-2013-1205 SPHERE), Slovenian Research Agency (Contract No. P1-0034), STSM COST Action European Network on New Sensing Technologies for Air-Pollution Control and Environmental Sustainability (EuNetAir), and Croatian-Slovenian bilateral project “Estimating the role of marine biogenic organosulfur compounds in the formation and properties of atmospheric organic aerosols.”

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sanja Frka.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Responsible editor: Gerhard Lammel

Electronic supplementary material


(DOC 502 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Cvitešić Kušan, A., Kroflič, A., Grgić, I. et al. Chemical characterization of fine aerosols in respect to water-soluble ions at the eastern Middle Adriatic coast. Environ Sci Pollut Res 27, 10249–10264 (2020).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • PM2.5
  • Water-soluble ions
  • Sea salt
  • Secondary sulfate
  • Aerosol acidity
  • Cl depletion
  • Adriatic Sea