Sources and chemical characterization of aerosol particles in Agri Valley (Southern Italy): development of environmental indicators

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Sources and chemical characterization of aerosol particles in Agri Valley (Southern Italy): development of environmental indicators

Rosa Caggiano, Antonio Lettino, Serena Sabia, Antonio Speranza, Vito Summa

Atmospheric aerosols are one of the most challenging environmental issues mainly due to their adverse effects on air quality and human health (Pateraki et al., 2014). In the framework of INDICARE (Indexing of regional environmental criticalities) project an integrated approach including chemical, geochemical, and mineralogical composition of atmospheric aerosol particles was used to developed environmental indicators to assess the possible natural and/or anthropogenic contributions to the finer atmospheric aerosol particles PM1 (aerosol particles with aerodynamic diameter less than 1 μm), relating to both local and long-range transport emissions. Measurements were performed in Agri Valley (Basilicata Region – Southern Italy). This is an area of international concern since it houses one of the largest European on-shore reservoirs and the biggest oil/gas pre-treatment plant (i.e., Centro Olio Val d’Agri – COVA) within a natural (Appennino Lucano – Val d’Agri – Lagonegrese National Park) and anthropized context, of about 50,000 inhabitants. Daily PM1 mass concentrations, 16 trace elements (i.e., Al, Ca, Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, K, Li, Mg, Mn, Na, Ni, Pb, S, Ti and Zn), geochemical and mineralogical composition of individual aerosol particles were performed. The Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was used to identify the main PM1 sources. The Hybrid Single Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory model (HYSPLIT) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ( was used to assess the origin and the path of the incoming air masses over the study area. Special event (i.e., Saharan dust event, gas flaring, shutdown COVA activities) occurred during the study period were considered. Environmental indicators based on the concentration ratios between the trace elements measured in PM1 were identified. The Ti/Fe ratio was a good indicator of natural contribution to the measured PM1, whereas (Ni+Pb)/(Cd+Cr) ratio was a good indicator of the anthropogenic contribution to the measured PM1 represented by traffic and industrial activities mainly related to the extraction of hydrocarbons and their pre-treatment in the COVA plant.

Keywords: PM1; Chemical Analysis; Morphological analysis; Environmental Indicators; SEM/EDX

Proscience vol. 7

Pp 20-29

DOI: 10.14644/ghc2020.004