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Determination of potentially toxic elements in aerosols in an urban area


Research objectives and content
This work plan basically aims to optimise thc analysis of heavy metals in particles in suspension as well as the identification of the sources of emission, by characterisation of trace elements (traces and ultratraces) and the study of the physical and chemical transformations which these contaminants undergo in the atmosphere. There will be optimisation of chemical analysis of trace and ultratrace elements combining the different protocols of filter digestion and different analysis techniques: optic emission spectrometry with inductively coupled plasma (ICP-AES), mass spectrometry with inductively coupled plasma source (ICP-MS) by means of which it will be possible to determine trace elements. except for Hg. As v Se and Laser Ablation Microprove-lCP-MS (LAMP-ICP-MS), which offers the same advantages as the ICP-MS but the need for digesting the samples.. A selection of each one of the techniques will be made for the analysis of each element or group of elements after obtaining calibration curves and calculation of detection limits. Another channel of research open is the study and analytical determination of anions and cations (sulphates, nitrates and sulphates mainly) directly involved in atmospherical mineral dynamics. The analysis of ions would be undertaken using the ultraviolet equipment of the British Geological Survey.
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
The stay applied for at the Analytical Geochemistry Group of the British Geological Survey, and the chance to use the analytical techniques and large-scale equipment available at the concern which I would be staying at for one year, would enable perfecting the most suitable analytical procedures for the analvsis of filters stemming from immission samples. My stay at said concern would reinforce the process of optimisation of analytical development involved in the adaptation of a realistic methodology to enable the analysis of trace elements of environmental interest. Apart from the relevant specific results of the project presented, the stay being applied for would give great practice in handling large equipment (ICP-AES, ICP-MS, LAMP-lCP-MS)representing a most valuable training in these techniques whose application is so imperative. Furthermore, after the analysis and discussion of results, an attempt would be made to predict the origin of the elements determined using the experience of this advanced consolidated research group in the analytical research of atmospheric contaminants.
Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)
There are several public and private concerns which hase shown great interest in the undertaking of the scientific project, with the support given by Iberdrola, S.A. being of special importance, as well as the growing interest of important companies in the ceramic sector interested in improving the quality of their emissions into the atmosphere, as well as getting to know their possible contaminating effects.

Funding Scheme

RGI - Research grants (individual fellowships)


Natural Environment Research Council
Kingsley Dunham Centre
NG12 5GG Nottingham
United Kingdom

Participants (1)

Not available