Elemental composition and morphology were studied for atmospheric fine particles (PM2.5) collected from a fast developing city, Hefei, with an aim of tracing the potential emission sources. The sampling was conducted every month at two urban sites between June 2014 and December 2015. We used X-ray fluorescence (XRF) to determine the elemental composition, and scanning electronic microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscope (TEM) to characterize the particles in morphology.
Our results showed that PM2.5 contained large fractions of particles likely derived from fuel burning, construction and automobile emissions and was highly enriched in sulfur. Aggregations of particles suggested a strong secondary reaction under high SO2 levels. Some discrepancies in elemental composition at the two sampling sites were observed, which were attributed to the difference in traffic density and construction fugitive dust emissions. A negative correlation existed between the polluted elements in PM2.5 and the ambient temperature and a positive correlation existed with the pressure, likely caused by a reduction in the height of the terrestrial boundary layer and reaction rates of pollutants.