Size-resolved dust and aerosol contaminants associated with copper and lead smelting emissions

Implications for emission management and human health

Janae Csavina, Mark P. Taylor, Omar Félix, Kyle P. Rine, A. Eduardo Sáez*, Eric A. Betterton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Citations (Scopus)


Mining operations, including crushing, grinding, smelting, refining, and tailings management, are a significant source of airborne metal and metalloid contaminants such as As, Pb and other potentially toxic elements. In this work, we show that size-resolved concentrations of As and Pb generally follow a bimodal distribution with the majority of contaminants in the fine size fraction (<. 1. μm) around mining activities that include smelting operations at various sites in Australia and Arizona. This evidence suggests that contaminated fine particles (<. 1. μm) are the result of vapor condensation and coagulation from smelting operations while coarse particles are most likely the result of windblown dust from contaminated mine tailings and fugitive emissions from crushing and grinding activities. These results on the size distribution of contaminants around mining operations are reported to demonstrate the ubiquitous nature of this phenomenon so that more effective emission management and practices that minimize health risks associated with metal extraction and processing can be developed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)750-756
Number of pages7
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2014


  • Arsenic and lead
  • Dust and aerosol
  • Dust transport
  • Mining

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