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Emerging investigator series: aqueous-phase processing of atmospheric aerosol influences dissolution kinetics of metal ions in an urban background site in the Po Valley.

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D'Aronco, Sara 
Badocco, Denis 
Battaglia, Francesco 


Metals are an important atmospheric aerosol component; their impacts on health and the environment depend also on their solubility, dissolution kinetics and chemical form in which they are present in the aerosol (e.g., oxidation state, inorganic salt or oxide/hydroxide, organic complex). In this study, we investigated the impact of fog processing on the solubility and dissolution of metals in PM2.5 samples collected in an urban background site in Padova (Italy). For each sample, we determined the solubility and dissolution kinetics of 17 elements in a solution simulating fog water in the winter season in the Po Valley (pH 4.7, T 5 °C, and water content ∼0.5 g m-3). We also determined water-soluble inorganic and organic compounds having ligand properties. We used the model E-AIM IV to calculate the aerosol liquid water (ALW) content and pH, and we used the model Visual MinteQ to determine the speciation picture of the most important elements under conditions of both deliquescent aerosol (ALW and pH calculated using E-AIM IV, ambient temperature) and simulated fog. We found that the dissolution of Al, Cu, and Fe metal ions, predicted to be largely coordinated with organic compounds under fog conditions, was either immediate or considerably faster in samples collected on days with observed fog events compared with those collected on days having drier conditions. For readily soluble elements, such as As, Cd, Cr, Sr, and Zn, such an effect was not observed. Our study highlights the importance of coordination chemistry in atmospheric aerosol and fog in determining the bioavailability of particle-bound metals.



Aerosols, Air Pollutants, Kinetics, Metals, Organic Chemicals, Solubility, Water

Journal Title

Environ Sci Process Impacts

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Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)