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Determination of settled dust sources by analytical techniques and chemical mass balance receptor model

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The identification of sources that produce particulate atmospheric matter (PM) can be of paramount importance for the reduction of air pollution and the development of environmental policies. In order to identify the environmental impact resulting from industrial metallurgical activities in the Metropolitan Region of Vitória, ES, Brazil, it was investigated the contribution to PM that result from industrial activities and from local natural sources. For this purpose, analytical techniques were used to identify the apportionment of sources that contribute to the formation of insoluble settled dust collected at two points near the city of Vitória. Samples of soil, iron ore, limestone, coal, iron ore pellets, sinter, coke, slag, environmental samples of settled dust, and samples representative of the actual flows of materials used in an integrated steel mill were analyzed. Physicochemical characterizations, based on X-ray diffraction and 57Fe Mössbauer spectroscopy of ferruginous compounds found in sources and receptor samples, revealed the presence of highly crystallized hematite and low crystallized hematite. The latter is primarily found in soil samples, while well-crystallized hematite is found in natural samples from iron ores or after thermo-chemical processes applied during the industrial transformation of raw materials, as it happens during the production of pellets. Ferrous crystallographic forms α-FeOOH and Fe5HO8·4H2O, observed in environmental and soil samples, were also found in samples from industrial sources. Source apportionment of carbon based on the IMPROVE_A protocol for thermal/optical carbon analysis showed the participation of the elementary carbon fractions, separating contributions originated from coke and coal sources in the environmental samples. These results allowed a significant reduction of collinearity between source profiles in the application of the chemical mass balance receptor model “EPA-CMB8.2” receptor model. Consequently, it was possible to distinguish sources that process mainly ferrous and carbonaceous materials, identifying the contribution of different sources to the settled dust collected.

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Financial support from ArcelorMittal Brazil S.A and technical support from CDTN/CNEN are gratefully acknowledged. CNPq Grants 409,704/2018–0 and 311,697/2020–8 are also acknowledged by Luis Eugenio Fernandez-Outon, and CNPq Grants 309,217/2018–0 and 420,322/2018–3 by José Domingos Ardisson.


The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of ArcelorMittal Brazil S.A.

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José Gustavo da Costa: funding acquisition, investigation, writing and original draft. Adriana S. de Albuquerque: review and editing. José Domingos Ardisson: reviewing, investigation and methodology. Luis Eugenio Fernandez-Outon: review and editing. Rogério S. de Queiroz: original draft, conceptualization, methodology and software. Tsutomu Morimoto: conceptualization, methodology and software.

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Correspondence to José Gustavo da Costa.

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da Costa, J.G., de Albuquerque, A.S., Ardisson, J.D. et al. Determination of settled dust sources by analytical techniques and chemical mass balance receptor model. Environ Sci Pollut Res 30, 17926–17941 (2023).

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