Bahadar Bahadar Zeb1, Khan Khan Alam 2, Armin Armin Sorooshian3,4, Thomas Blaschke5, Ifthikhar Ahmad1, Imran Shahid6

Department of Physics, University of Malakand, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
Department of Physics, University of Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
Department of Geoinformatics Z_GIS, University of Salzburg, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
Institute of Space Technology (IST), Islamabad, Pakistan

Received: September 28, 2017
Revised: January 10, 2018
Accepted: January 14, 2018
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Cite this article:
Bahadar Zeb, B., Khan Alam, K., Armin Sorooshian, A., Blaschke, T., Ahmad, I. and Shahid, I. (2018). On the Morphology and Composition of Particulate Matter in an Urban Environment. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 18: 1431-1447.


  • PM mass concentrations and physicochemical characteristics were quantified.
  • High PM concentration shows poor air quality in the region.
  • The morphology, size, and elemental compositions of PM were analysed.
  • The size of the analyzed particles by EDX ranged from 916 nm to 22 µm.
  • Classified particles are silica, Fe/Ti oxides, carbonaceous, sulphate, and biogenic.


Particulate matter (PM) plays a vital role in altering air quality, human health, and climate change. There are sparse data relevant to PM characteristics in urban environments of the Middle East, including Peshawar city in Pakistan. This work reports on the morphology and composition of PM in two size fractions (PM2.5 and PM10) during November 2016 in Peshawar. The 24 hous mass concentration of PM2.5 varied from 72 µg m–3 to 500 µg m–3 with an average value of 286 µg m–3. The 24 hours PM10 concentration varied from 300 µg m–3 to 1440 µg m–3 with an average of 638 µg m–3. The morphology, size, and elemental composition of PM were measured using Fourier Transform Infra Red (FT-IR) Spectroscopy and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) with Energy Dispersive X-ray (EDX) Spectroscopy. The size of the analyzed particles by EDX ranged from 916 nm to 22 µm. Particles were classified into the following groups based on their elemental composition and morphology: silica (12%), aluminosilicates (23%), calcium rich (3%), chloride (2%), Fe/Ti oxides (3%), carbonaceous (49%), sulfate (5%), biogenic (3%). The major identified sources of PM are vehicular emissions, biomass burning, soil and re-suspended road dust, biological emissions, and construction activities in and around the vicinity of the sampling site.

Keywords: Particulate matter; Morphology and elemental composition; Scanning Electron Microscopy; Energy Dispersive X-ray; Fourier Transform Infra Red Spectroscopy.


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