Spatiotemporal distribution of airborne particulate metals and metalloids in a populated arid region

Gouri Prabhakar, Armin Sorooshian, Emily Toffol, Avelino F. Arellano, Eric A. Betterton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


A statistical analysis of data from the Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) network of aerosol samplers has been used to study the spatial and temporal concentration trends in airborne particulate metals and metalloids for southern Arizona. The study region is a rapidly growing area in southwestern North America characterized by high fine soil concentrations (among the highest in the United States), anthropogenic emissions from an area within the fastest growing region in the United States, and a high density of active and abandoned mining sites. Crustal tracers in the region are most abundant in the summer (April-June) followed by fall (October-November) as a result of dry meteorological conditions which favor dust emissions from natural and anthropogenic activity. A distinct day-of-week cycle is evident for crustal tracer mass concentrations, with the greatest amplitude evident in urban areas. There have been significant reductions since 1988 in the concentrations of toxic species that are typically associated with smelting and mining. Periods with high fine soil concentrations coincide with higher concentrations of metals and metalloids in the atmosphere, with the enhancement being higher at urban sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-347
Number of pages9
JournalAtmospheric Environment
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Aerosol
  • Arizona
  • Arsenic
  • Desert
  • Dust
  • Lead

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science


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