Commenced in January 2007
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Characterization of Atmospheric Aerosols by SEM-EDX in a Rural-Continental Environment: A Seasonal Approach

Authors: Parminder Kaur, Anirban Guha


The vital information on the morphology and composition of the atmospheric aerosols over any region is critical to understanding their climatic and health effects. This study aims at the physicochemical characteristics of atmospheric aerosols at a rural continental site in northeastern India. We collected the aerosol samples from January to December and applied a seasonal approach to investigate the physicochemical properties of aerosol particles. We have used a scanning electron microscope (SEM) to examine the morphology of particles that includes shape, size, and structure information. Energy-dispersive X-ray analysis (EDX) is used to investigate the elemental composition information. By using the SEM-EDX, we have seen a variation in the morphology of particles and elemental composition from season to season. We have found different particle shapes vary from regular to irregular, including spherical, nearly spherical, triangular, capsule-like, and platy shapes. We have seen various clusters of particles like chain-like structures, porous textures, soot structures, and irregular structures. We have found a size range of particles with a diameter ranging from 0.1 nm to 30 ┬Ám. We have found common elements and the significant contribution of elements C, Si, O, and B throughout the year. We have noticed the presence of crustal origin and carbonaceous particles dominating the study region. The maximum presence/counts detected in analyzed samples are from C and then B. We have observed a distinct seasonal variation in the amount of different elements. A small contribution by sea salt origin elements is noticed during the pre, monsoon, and post-monsoon seasons when winds flow from the seaside to the study location. This is supported by our air mass back trajectory results.

Keywords: atmospheric aerosols, SEM-EDX, morphology, composition

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