Characteristics of trace metals in traffic-derived particles in Hsuehshan Tunnel, Taiwan: size distribution, potential source, and fingerprinting metal ratio
Abstract. Traffic emissions are a significant source of airborne particulate matter (PM) in ambient environments. These emissions contain an abundance of toxic metals and thus pose adverse effects on human health. Size-fractionated aerosol samples were collected from May to September 2013 by using micro-orifice uniform deposited impactors (MOUDIs). Sample collection was conducted simultaneously at the inlet and outlet sites of Hsuehshan Tunnel in northern Taiwan, which is the second-longest freeway tunnel (12.9 km) in Asia. This endeavor aims to characterize the chemical constituents and size distributions, as well as fingerprinting ratios of particulate metals emitted by vehicle fleets. A total of 36 metals in size-resolved aerosols were determined through inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Three major groups – namely, tailpipe emissions (Zn, Pb, and V in fine mode), wear debris (Cu, Cd, Fe, Ga, Mn, Mo, Sb, and Sn), and resuspended dust (Ca, Mg, K, and Rb) – of airborne PM metals were categorized on the basis of the results of enrichment factor, correlation matrix, and principal component analysis. Size distributions of wear-originated metals resembled the pattern of crustal elements, which were predominated by super-micron particulates (PM1–10). By contrast, tailpipe exhaust elements such as Zn, Pb, and V were distributed mainly in submicron particles. By employing Cu as a tracer of wear abrasion, several inter-metal ratios – including Fe / Cu (14), Ba / Cu (1.05), Sb / Cu (0.16), Sn / Cu (0.10), and Ga / Cu (0.03) – served as fingerprints for wear debris. However, the data set collected in this work is useful for further studies on traffic emission inventory and human health effects of traffic-related PM.