Identification of industrial sources of airborne heavy metal pollution in urban areas

  • S.A. Simmons

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The research examines the deposition of airborne particles which contain heavy metals and investigates the methods that can be used to identify their sources. The research focuses on lead and cadmium because these two metals are of growing public and scientific concern on environmental health grounds.
The research consists of three distinct parts. The first is the development and evaluation of a new deposition measurement instrument - the deposit cannister - designed specifically for large-scale surveys in urban areas. The deposit cannister is specifically designed to be cheap, robust, and versatile and therefore
to permit comprehensive high-density urban surveys. The siting policy reduces contamination from locally resuspended surface-dust.
The second part of the research has involved detailed surveys of heavy metal deposition in Walsall, West Midlands, using the new high-density measurement method. The main survey, conducted over a six-week period in November - December 1982, provided 30-day samples of deposition at 250 different sites. The results have been used to examine the magnitude and spatial variability of deposition rates in the case-study area, and to evaluate the performance of
the measurement method.
The third part of the research has been to conduct a 'source-identification'
exercise. The methods used have been Receptor Models - Factor Analysis and Cluster Analysis - and a predictive source-based deposition model. The results indicate that there are six main source processes contributing to deposition of metals in the Walsall area: coal combustion, vehicle emissions, ironfounding,
copper refining and two general industrial/urban processes.
|A source-based deposition model has been calibrated using facctorscores
for one source factor as the dependent variable, rather than metal deposition rates, thus avoiding problems traditionally encountered in calibrating models in complex multi-source areas. Empirical evidence supports the hypothesised associatlon of this factor with emissions of metals from the ironfoundry industry.
Date of AwardOct 1984
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorR.L. Pocock (Supervisor) & T. Chidley (Supervisor)


  • air pollution
  • source identification
  • deposition
  • lead
  • cadmium

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