Samuel Mwaniki Gaita 1, Johan Boman1, Michael James Gatari2, Annemarie Wagner3, Sara Kluge Jonsson1

  • 1 Department of Chemistry & Molecular Biology, Atmospheric Science, University of Gothenburg, 40530 Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 2 Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology, University of Nairobi, Nairobi 00100, Kenya
  • 3 Department of Applied Physics, Chalmers University of Technology, SE-412 96 Gothenburg, Sweden

Received: January 24, 2016
Revised: March 30, 2016
Accepted: March 30, 2016
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Cite this article:
Gaita, S.M., Boman, J., Gatari, M.J., Wagner, A. and Jonsson, S.K. (2016). Characterization of Size-Fractionated Particulate Matter and Deposition Fractions in Human Respiratory System in a Typical African City: Nairobi, Kenya. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 16: 2378-2385.


  • Trace elements were measured from size-fractionated particles in Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Deposition fractions in human respiratory system have been calculated.
  • Deposition of particulate matter pollutants is dominant in the head airways region.



Information from elemental and mass composition of size-fractionated airborne particle matter (PM) provides insightful knowledge about their impact on human health, meteorology and climate. To attain insight into the nature of size-fractionated PM from a typical African city, samples were collected from an urban background site in Nairobi, Kenya, during the months of August and September in 2007. PM samples ranging in size from 0.06 to 16 µm aerodynamic diameter were collected on pre-weighed polycarbonate filters with 0.4 µm pore size using a nine-stage cascade impactor. Particles less than 0.06 µm were collected on a backup filter. A total of 170 samples were collected and analysed for trace elements using the Proton Induced X-Ray Emission (PIXE) technique. The analysis showed that Si, Fe and S dominated in all size ranges and displayed unimodal mass-size distribution whereas K, Cu, Zn and Pb, depicted bimodal mass-size distribution highlighting the multiplicity of their sources. To estimate human exposure to PM, deposition fractions of both the coarse and fine PM in the human respiratory system were calculated. The deposited concentration was found to be highest in the head airways region compared to the tracheobronchial and pulmonary regions.

Keywords: Urban air quality; Human health; Particulate pollution

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