Two-year study of atmospheric aerosols in Alta Floresta, Brazil: Multielemental composition and source apportionment

Willy Maenhaut, Maria Teresa Fernández-Jiménez, Istvan Rajta, Paulo Artaxo

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Atmospheric aerosol samples were collected nearly continuously from August 1996 until September 1998 at Alta Floresta in a primary forest region of the Amazon basin, Brazil. The sampling device consisted of a stacked filter unit (SFU), which separates the aerosol into a coarse (2-10 μm equivalent aerodynamic diameter (EAD)) and a fine (<2 μm EAD) size fraction. The coarse and fine filters of all SFU samples (205 in total) were analysed for the particulate mass (PM), black carbon (BC), and up to 47 elements (from Na upward). The multielemental analyses were done by a combination of PIXE and instrumental neutron activation analysis. Absolute principal component analysis was used for source (source type) identification and apportionment. Five components were identified in the fine size fraction, i.e. mineral dust, a biomass burning (pyrogenic) component (with PM, BC, S, K, Zn, Br, Rb and I, having loadings in the range 0.7-0.9), a Na/Ca component, a biogenic component (with P), and an almost pure Pb component. On average 67% of the fine PM was attributed to the pyrogenic component, 14% to the mineral dust, 7% each to the biogenic and Na/Ca components, and 4% to the Pb component. The relative contribution from the pyrogenic aerosol varied substantially with season, however. It was generally between 60% and 100% during the dry season. During the wet season, on the other hand, it often became insignificant. During that season, most of the fine aerosol was attributed to the biogenic component.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-248
Number of pages6
JournalNuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2002



  • Amazon basin
  • Atmospheric aerosols
  • INAA
  • Multielement analysis
  • PIXE
  • Source apportionment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Instrumentation

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