Determination of oxoanions and water-soluble species of arsenic, selenium, antimony, vanadium, and chromium eluted in water from airborne fine particles (PM2.5): effect of acid and transition metal content of particles on heavy metal elution†
Heavy metals in particulate matter (PM) are of great concern, and their effects on the environment and human health depend on their solubilities and species present. In this study, the solubility of As, Se, Sb, V and Cr and their species eluted in water was investigated. As, Se, Sb, and V were present mostly in fine particles, and they were predominantly water-soluble in fine particles (<2.5 μm, PM2.5) but insoluble in coarse particles (>2.5 μm). Solubility of Cr was poor even in fine particles. It was found that for fine particles, solubilities of the heavy metals were related to the nitrate and sulfate contents. This suggests that the higher the acidity of the particles, the higher the solubility of the heavy metals. Oxoanions of the five kinds of heavy metals in water extracts of fine particles were determined by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry preceded by ion chromatography. The results suggested the presence of atmospheric oxidation during the aerosol transportation. Also, the As(III)/As(V) (arsenite/arsenate) ratios for the fine particle extracts were related to the transition metal concentrations, which indicated that Fe, Cu, etc. in fine particles affected the As redox equilibrium. It was suggested that the heavy metals exist as complexes with iron hydroxide and dissolved organic matter in addition to the free oxoanions. These investigations were performed for PM samples collected in winter and summer in Kumamoto, west Japan, where the site is strongly exposed to westerly winds from continental East Asia. The obtained results improve our understanding of the behavior of the heavy metals in airborne PM after depositing on a wet environment and biota.