Gerelmaa Gunchin 1,2, Manousos Manousakas3, Janos Osan2,4, Andreas Germanos Karydas5, Konstantinos Eleftheriadis3, Sereeter Lodoysamba6, Dagva Shagjjamba1, Alessandro Migliori2, Roman Padilla-Alvarez2, Christina Streli7, Iain Darby2,8

Nuclear Research Center, National University of Mongolia, 14201 Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Nuclear Science and Instrumentation Laboratory, Physics Section, IAEA, 2444 Seibersdorf, Austria
Institute of Nuclear & Radiological Sciences & Technology, Energy & Safety, N.C.S.R. “Demokritos”, 15341 Athens , Greece
Environmental Physics Department, Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre for Energy Research, 1121 Budapest, Hungary
Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics, N.C.S.R. "Demokritos", 15310 Athens, Greece
Faculty of Engineering, German-Mongolian Institute for Resources and Technology, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Atominstitut, Vienna University of Technology, 1020 Vienna, Austria
SUPA, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, United Kingdom

Received: September 25, 2018
Revised: January 8, 2019
Accepted: January 8, 2019

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Gunchin, G., Manousakas, M., Osan, J., Karydas, A.G., Eleftheriadis, K., Lodoysamba, S., Shagjjamba, D., Migliori, A., Padilla-Alvarez, R., Streli, C. and Darby, I. (2019). Three-Year Long Source Apportionment Study of Airborne Particles in Ulaanbaatar Using X-Ray Fluorescence and Positive Matrix Factorization. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 19: 1056-1067.


  • Study presents the results of PM10‐2.5 and PM2.5 data collected at Ulaanbaatar.
  • EDXRF and source apportionment analysis was performed using PMF 5.0.
  • Four sources were identified: Soil, Coal combustion, Traffic and Oil.
  • CWT have indicated that westerly directional components contributes significantly.


The capital city of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, suffers from high levels of pollution due to excessive airborne particulate matter (APM). A lack of systematic data for the region has inspired investigation into the type, origin and seasonal variations of this pollution, the effects of meteorological conditions and even the time-dependence of anthropogenic sources. This work reports source apportionment results from a large data set of 184 samples each of fine (PM2.5) and coarse (PM2.5-10) fraction atmospheric PM collected over a three-year period (2014–2016) in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) was applied using the concentrations of 16 elements measured by an energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometer along with the black carbon content measured by a reflectometer as input data. The PMF results revealed that whereas mixed sources dominate the coarse fraction, soil and traffic sources are the principle contributors to the fine fraction. The source profiles and the seasonal variations of their contributions indicate that fly ash emanating from coal combustion mixes with traffic emissions and resuspended soil, resulting in variable chemical source profiles. Four sources were identified for both fractions, namely, soil, coal combustion, traffic and oil combustion, which respectively contributed 35%, 16%, 41% and 8% to the coarse fraction and 31%, 27%, 31% and 11% to the fine fraction. Additionally, the probable source contributions from long-range transport events were assessed via concentration-weighted trajectory analysis.

Keywords: Airborne particulate matter; XRF; PMF; Ulaanbaatar.

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