Enhanced iron solubility at low pH in global aerosols

Ellery D. Ingall, Yan Feng, Amelia F. Longo, Barry Lai, Rachel U. Shelley, William M. Landing, Peter L. Morton, Athanasios Nenes, Nikolaos Mihalopoulos, Kalliopi Violaki, Yuan Gao, Shivraj Sahai, Erin Castorina

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28 Scopus citations


The composition and oxidation state of aerosol iron were examined using synchrotron-based iron near-edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy. By combining synchrotron-based techniques with water leachate analysis, impacts of oxidation state and mineralogy on aerosol iron solubility were assessed for samples taken from multiple locations in the Southern and the Atlantic Oceans; and also from Noida (India), Bermuda, and the Eastern Mediterranean (Crete). These sampling locations capture iron-containing aerosols from different source regions with varying marine, mineral dust, and anthropogenic influences. Across all locations, pH had the dominating influence on aerosol iron solubility. When aerosol samples were approximately neutral pH, iron solubility was on average 3.4%; when samples were below pH 4, the iron solubility increased to 35%. This observed aerosol iron solubility profile is consistent with thermodynamic predictions for the solubility of Fe(III) oxides, the major iron containing phase in the aerosol samples. Source regions and transport paths were also important factors affecting iron solubility, as samples originating from or passing over populated regions tended to contain more soluble iron. Although the acidity appears to affect aerosol iron solubility globally, a direct relationship for all samples is confounded by factors such as anthropogenic influence, aerosol buffer capacity, mineralogy and physical processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number201
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


  • Aerosol chemistry
  • Aerosol iron
  • Aerosol pH
  • Iron solubility
  • Synchrotron


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