Characterising trace element profiles in atmospheric particles at iron and steelmaking industrial areas in China

Xiaoteng Zhou, Vladimir Strezov, Xiaoxia Yang, Tim Evans, Yijiao Jiang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


Air pollution poses a significant health risk as it incorporates a range of toxic contaminants, such as As, Cd, Cu and Pb. According to the World Health Organisation, air pollution is estimated to cause one in nine deaths. Iron and steelmaking industries are an important industrial contributor to atmospheric particle and emissions to the environment.

China has been considered as the largest producer and consumer of iron and steel in the world since 1996, and its production of iron and steel contributed to 27 % of dust emissions. Although novel environmental protection equipment has been used in iron and steelmaking industries, the efficacy of updated operations on environmental impacts has not been fully studied.

This study investigated atmospheric pollution at five sampling sites in China, cities of Kunming (KM), Wuhan (WH), Nanjing (NJ) and Ningbo (NB) along with a campus at Ningbo Nottingham University (UN) as a background site. Three of the sampling sites (KM, WH and NJ) were next to old iron and steelmaking plants, while the sampling site at NB was next to a modern and coastal steelmaking plant. Atmospheric particles at different size ranges (PM1.1, PM1.1-2.1 and PM2.1-9.0) were collected from each sampling site for two days during the period from April to July 2017. All samples were subjected to trace element and Pb isotopic composition analyses.

In this work, trace element results were used to evaluate contamination levels across sampling locations, from a background area (UN), an industrial plant (NB) with new equipment to plants (KM, WH and NJ) that currently run old blast furnaces. Results of Pb isotopic compositions were further applied to confirm contamination sources of atmospheric particles, i.e. legacy depositions or current industrial activities. The results presented in this work provide information on characterisation of atmospheric particles emitted from iron and steelmaking industries, which is of significant importance for designing efficient air-pollution-control measures.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChemeca2019
Place of PublicationMelbourne
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9781925627336
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventChemeca 2019 - Sydney, Australia
Duration: 29 Sept 20192 Oct 2019
Conference number: 48th


ConferenceChemeca 2019


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