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Source apportionment study on particulate air pollution in two high-altitude Bolivian cities: La Paz and El Alto
Valeria Mardoñez, Marco Pandolfi, Lucille Joanna S. Borlaza, Jean-Luc Jaffrezo, Andrés Alastuey, Jean-Luc Besombes, Isabel R. Moreno, Noemí Perez, Griša Močnik, Patrick Ginot, 2023, original scientific article

Abstract: La Paz and El Alto are two fast-growing, high-altitude Bolivian cities forming the second-largest metropolitan area in the country. Located between 3200 and 4050 m a.s.l. (above sea level), these cities are home to a burgeoning population of approximately 1.8 million residents. The air quality in this conurbation is heavily influenced by urbanization; however, there are no comprehensive studies evaluating the sources of air pollution and their health impacts. Despite their proximity, the substantial variation in altitude, topography, and socioeconomic activities between La Paz and El Alto result in distinct sources, dynamics, and transport of particulate matter (PM). In this investigation, PM10 samples were collected at two urban background stations located in La Paz and El Alto between April 2016 and June 2017. The samples were later analyzed for a wide range of chemical species including numerous source tracers (OC, EC, water-soluble ions, sugar anhydrides, sugar alcohols, trace metals, and molecular organic species). The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF v.5.0) receptor model was employed for the source apportionment of PM10. This is one of the first source apportionment studies in South America that incorporates an extensive suite of organic markers, including levoglucosan, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), hopanes, and alkanes, alongside inorganic species. The multisite PMF resolved 11 main sources of PM. The largest annual contribution to PM10 came from the following two major sources: the ensemble of the four vehicular emissions sources (exhaust and non-exhaust), accountable for 35 % and 25 % of the measured PM in La Paz and El Alto, respectively; and dust, which contributed 20 % and 32 % to the total PM mass. Secondary aerosols accounted for 22 % (24 %) in La Paz (El Alto). Agricultural smoke resulting from biomass burning in the Bolivian lowlands and neighboring countries contributed to 9 % (8 %) of the total PM10 mass annually, increasing to 17 % (13 %) between August–October. Primary biogenic emissions were responsible for 13 % (7 %) of the measured PM10 mass. Additionally, a profile associated with open waste burning occurring from May to August was identified. Although this source contributed only to 2 % (5 %) of the total PM10 mass, it constitutes the second largest source of PAHs, which are compounds potentially hazardous to human health. Our analysis additionally resolved two different traffic-related factors, a lubricant source (not frequently identified), and a non-exhaust emissions source. Overall, this study demonstrates that PM10 concentrations in La Paz and El Alto region are predominantly influenced by a limited number of local sources. In conclusion, to improve air quality in both cities, efforts should primarily focus on addressing dust, traffic emissions, open waste burning, and biomass burning.
Keywords: source apportionment, particular air pollution, high altitude, positive matrix factorization, PMF
Published in RUNG: 15.09.2023; Views: 960; Downloads: 5
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