Iron speciation in urban dust

Evert J. Elzinga, Yuan Gao, Jeffrey P. Fitts, Ryan Tappero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


An improved understanding of anthropogenic impacts on ocean fertility requires knowledge of anthropogenic dust mineralogy and associated Fe speciation as a critical step toward developing Fe solubility models constrained by mineralogical composition. This study explored the utility of micro-focused X-ray absorption spectroscopy (μ-XAS) in characterizing the speciation of Fe in urban dust samples. A micro-focused beam of 10 × 7 μm made possible the measurement of the Fe K edge XAS spectra of individual dust particles in the PM5.6 size fraction collected in Newark, New Jersey, USA. Spectral analysis indicated the presence of mixtures of Fe-containing minerals within individual dust particles; we observed significant magnetite content along with other Fe(III)-(hydr)oxide minerals which could not be conclusively identified. Our data indicate that detailed quantitative determination of Fe speciation requires extended energy scans to constrain the types and relative abundance of Fe species present. We observe heterogeneity in Fe speciation at the dust particle level, which underscores the importance of analyzing a statistically adequate number of particles within each dust sample. Where possible, μ-XAS measurements should be complemented with additional characterization techniques such as μ-XRD and bulk XAS to obtain a comprehensive picture of the Fe speciation in dust materials. X-ray microprobes should be used to complement bulk methods used to determine particle composition, methods that fail to record particle heterogeneity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4528-4532
Number of pages5
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number26
StatePublished - Aug 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science


  • Iron
  • Micro-focused X-ray absorption spectroscopy
  • Speciation
  • Urban dust


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