Elemental Composition of Atmospheric Particulate, Water and Soil Samples From Urban and Polluted Environments

McDonald, Charles (1977) Elemental Composition of Atmospheric Particulate, Water and Soil Samples From Urban and Polluted Environments. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Chapter I deals with the reasons for the increased public concern over pollution of the environment, including the deaths of 43 people in Japan in 1953, and the death of over 50,000 seabirds in the Irish Sea in 1969. Chapter II discusses methods which have been used in the analysis of metals in environmental samples with comments on their strengths and weaknesses. The two methods which were used in this work, Activation Analysis and Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy are discussed in more detail. Chapter III deals with atmospheric levels of some 24 elements. Reasons for a study of elemental levels are given. Sampling problems such as best filter paper, filter blank values, pressure drop across the filter, etc. are considered. The accuracy of the methods used was checked using standard air pollution filters. The results of one site sampling over a period of 13 months are given and compared to other world centres. Attempts were made to correlate the levels with weather parameters with only partial success. It was found that although the weather has an effect on levels; fog and calm conditions increasing levels while rain decreased levels, this is not linear. Seasonal variations were also studied with peak values for most elements in winter except for Se and Sb which tend to peak in spring and summer. Levels at 13 other city sites and 2 rural sites were also measured but no area was found to be consistently high in all elements. The rural sites did in general show lower levels than the city. Particle size distribution of elements was also studied using a 5 stage cascade impactor the principles of which are discussed. The results are discussed in terms of implications to human health with disturbing results for Cd, Pb and Ni, large proportions of which can penetrate deep into the lung. The results are also compared favourably with those of Liege (Belgium). A term often used in studying atmospheric levels of elements is the enrichment factor (see Section 3.5. 3.3) where atmospheric levels are compared to some standard. When compared to soil the elements show two trends. One class has ratios close to those in soil while the other is enriched by 100 - 10,000 times. It has been suggested that this is consistent with a fuel burning source and is fully discussed. Good agreement has been found with this theory in all sections of this work. The results of 1 site sampling agree well with those of Liege (Belgium) while the enrichment factors for the other city and rural sites are remarkably constant in the first class (close to soil ratios) with higher and more varied factors for the others. Again the factors of the first class vary little with particle size, the variations being found in the second class. Chapter IV deals with metal levels in Glasgow's water supply a constant source of worry due to a combination of soft water and lead pipes. A survey was carried out analysing for 7 elements. The results indicate that Pb levels are higher than W. H. O. limits while Cu could become a problem if W. H. O. desirable limits are applied. Other elements are not a problem ac this stage. Leaching was also studied by a controlled experiment using standard lengths of pipes in common use. Results indicate that altering the material of plumbing will only change the problem of metal levels and not necessarily remove them. Chapter V deals with some problems associated with the dumping of coal mine waste on land (bings). Bing samples were analysed for 8 metals and the results discussed in terms of plant growth. Only Cu had higher than normal values for normal soil ranges. The effect on surrounding land was also investigated in terms of drainage into streams and seepage and blow-off on to land. The results suggest that these might be occurring but further work is required to confirm the tentative findings of this work.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Environmental science, Atmospheric sciences, Soil sciences, Hydrologic sciences
Date of Award: 1977
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1977-78767
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2020 14:55
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2020 14:55
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/78767

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