Characterization of atmospheric trace elements on PM2.5 particulate matter over the New York-New Jersey harbor estuary

Y. Gao, E. D. Nelson, M. P. Field, Q. Ding, H. Li, R. M. Sherrell, C. L. Gigliotti, D. A. Van Ry, T. R. Glenn, S. J. Eisenreich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

249 Scopus citations


The purpose of this work is to characterize trace elements associated with atmospheric particulate matter of 2.5μm and smaller in size (PM2.5) over the New York-New Jersey (NY-NJ) Harbor Bight. Using low-volume PM2.5 samplers, aerosol particulate samples were simultaneously collected for the first time at three locations in the region, Sandy Hook in the coast, New Brunswick and Liberty Science Center (Jersey City) in nearby urban areas, during January 1998-January 1999. Sample analysis for trace elements was accomplished by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Many elements in ambient air exhibit strong spatial gradients from urban centers to the coast, and the concentrations of most elements at Liberty Science Center are significantly higher than at the other two locations. Seasonal patterns are not apparent for most elements at all locations, suggesting continuous contributions from their sources. The elements Pb, Cd, Zn, Cu, Ni, V, Sb, are enriched by factors of 200 to 20,000 relative to their natural abundance in crustal soil. Major sources that contribute to the atmospheric loading of these elements include fossil fuel combustion, oil combustion, metal processing industry, and waste incineration. Atmospheric dry deposition of these trace elements associated with PM2.5 to the coastal waters of the NY-NJ estuary may account for a significant portion of the total dry deposition fluxes for these elements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1077-1086
Number of pages10
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


  • Aerosol characteristics
  • New York-New Jersey harbor atmosphere
  • PM2.5 particulate matter
  • Trace elements


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