Local and regional anthropogenic influence on PM2.5 elements in Hong Kong

Gayle S.W. Hagler, Michael H. Bergin, Lynn G. Salmon, Jian Z. Yu, Eric C.H. Wan, Mei Zheng, L.M. Zeng, C.S. Kiang, Y.H. Zhang, and James J. Schauer
Atmospheric Environment 41 (2007) 5994-6004


Hong Kong's persistent unhealthy level of fine particulate matter is a current public health challenge, complicated by the city being located in the rapidly industrializing Pearl River Delta Region of China. While the sources of the region's fine particulate matter (PM2.5) are still not well understood, this study provides new source information through ground measurements and statistical analysis of 24 elements associated with particulate matter collected on filters. Field measurements took place over 4 months (October 2002, December 2002, March 2003, and June 2003) at seven sites throughout the Pearl River Delta, with three sites located in Hong Kong and four sites in the neighboring province, Guangdong. The 4-month average element concentrations show significant variation throughout the region, with higher levels of nearly every species seen among the northern Guangdong sites in comparison to Hong Kong. The high correlation (Pearson r>0.8) and similar magnitudes of 11 species (Al, Si, S, K, Ca, Mn, Fe, Zn, Br, Rb, and Pb) at three contrasting sites in Hong Kong indicate that sources external to Hong Kong dominate the regional levels of these elements. Further correlative analysis compared Hong Kong against potential source areas in Guangdong Province (Shenzhen, Zhongshan, and Guangzhou). Moderate correlation of sulfur for all pairings of Hong Kong sites with three Guangdong sites in developed areas (average Pearson r of 0.52-0.94) supports the importance of long-distance transport impacting the region as a whole, although local sources also clearly impact observed concentrations. Varying correlative characteristics for zinc when Hong Kong sites are paired with Shenzhen (average r=0.86), Guangzhou (average r=0.65) and Zhongshan (average r=0.45) points to a source area located south of Guangzhou and locally impacting Zhongshan. The concentration distribution and correlative characteristics of bromide point to sources located within the Pearl River Delta, but the specific location is yet inconclusive. Uniquely poor correlation of eight species (Al, Si, K, Ca, Mn, Fe, Rb, and Pb) for the pairing of Hong Kong sites with Guangzhou, in addition to the relatively higher concentrations measured at Guangzhou, indicates a significant regional impact due to land development and industrial activities in the Guangzhou vicinity.

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