Jihwan Son1,2, Kwangrae Kim1, Seungmi Kwon1, Seung-myung Park2, Kwangtae Ha1, Yunmi Shin1, Mijin Ahn1, Seogju Cho1, Jinho Shin1, Yongseung Shin1, Gangwoong Lee This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.2 

1 Seoul Metropolitan Government Research Institute of Public Health and Environment, Gwacheon, Gyeonggi 13818, Korea
2 Department of Environmental Science, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Yongin, Gyeonggi 17035, Korea

Received: September 27, 2020
Revised: January 17, 2021
Accepted: February 25, 2021

 Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited.

Download Citation: ||https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.200573  

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Cite this article:

Son, J., Kim, K., Kwon, S., Park, S., Ha, K., Shin, Y., Ahn, M., Cho, S., Shin, J., Shin, Y., Lee, G. (2021). Source Quantification of PM10 and PM2.5 Using Iron Tracer Mass Balance in a Seoul Subway Station, South Korea. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.200573


  • We measured PM and heavy metal compositions in subway station sectors.
  • PM behaviours were modelled with mass balance of PM mass and its iron content.
  • Controlling PM from tunnel is the most effective way to reduce PM in subway station.


In this study, we measured simultaneously particle matter (PM10 and PM2.5) mass and their heavy metal concentrations for three days at a Seoul subway station (outdoor, concourse, platform, and tunnel) to investigate airborne PM flows. The average PM10 concentration were 59 µg m–3, 37 µg m–3, 111 µg m–3 and 369 µg m–3 ; PM2.5 concentration were 43 µg m–3, 28 µg m–3, 58 µg m–3 and 132 µg m–3 in outdoor, concourse, platform and tunnel, respectively. Although PM temporal variations were highly correlated between adjacent sampling locations in subway station, PM2.5 temporal correlations were higher than PM10. The concentration of iron (Fe) was the highest among airborne trace metals in station sectors (concourse, platform, and tunnel). Using a simple mass balance model with Fe concentrations and ventilation rates, we calculated the origins of PMs in concourse and platform. 78% of PM10 and 62% of PM2.5 in platform were derived from the tunnel, whereas 84% of PM10 and 87% of PM2.5 in concourse from the filtered outdoor air. We further confirmed that the most effective way to reduce PM in platform to keep the highest peak under the national indoor air quality guideline is to reduce up to 80% PM input from tunnel source.

Keywords: Subway, Mass balance model, Air quality, Particle matter, Heavy metal

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