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Identification of Sources from Chemical Characterization of Fine Particulate Matter and Assessment of Ambient Air Quality in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Category: Urban Air Quality

Volume: 19 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 118-128
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2017.12.0604
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Bilkis A. Begum1, Philip K. Hopke 2,3

  • 1 Chemistry Division, Atomic Energy Centre, Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • 2 Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY 14642, USA
  • 3 Center for Air Resources Engineering and Science, Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY 13699, USA


PM2.5 samples were analyzed for mass, black carbon (BC), and elemental compositions.
Resulting PM2.5 composition data from 1996 to 2015 was analyzed by PMF.
Sources are wood burning, soil, brick kiln, Pb, road dust, Zn, traffic, and seasalt.
Governmental policies have reduced the PM from traffic; More to be done.


Air pollution in Dhaka has drawn the attention of the government and the public over the past several decades, especially upon the discovery of Pb in the air. As a result, several policy interventions have been implemented to improve the air quality. Sampling for fine airborne particulate matter (PM2.5, PM with an aerodynamic diameter < 2.5 µm) has been conducted at a semi-residential site (AECD) in Dhaka since December 1996 using a GENT sampler. The retrieved samples were analyzed for their mass, black carbon (BC), and elemental compositions, and the resulting data set was analyzed for source identification via the Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) technique. The identified sources are wood burning, soil dust, brick kilns, fugitive Pb, road dust, Zn sources, motor vehicles, and sea salt. The Government of Bangladesh is considering various interventions to reduce the emissions from these sources by promoting the replacement of diesel/petrol automobiles with CNG vehicles, increasing traffic speed in the city, and introducing green technologies for brick production. However, reducing the effect of transboundary contributions on the local air quality will necessitate regional measures as well.


PM Positive Matrix Factorization BC Traffic Compressed natural gas

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