Properties of agricultural aerosol released during wheat harvest threshing, plowing and sowing

Chiara Telloli , Antonella Malaguti , Mihaela Mircea , Renzo Tassinari , Carmela Vaccaro , Massimo Berico


Received November 06, 2013,Revised February 24, 2014, Accepted , Available online September 10, 2014

Volume 26,2014,Pages 1903-1912

This study shows for the first time a chemical and morphological characterization of agricultural aerosols released during three important agricultural operations: threshing, plowing and sowing. The field campaigns were carried out in the eastern part of the Po Valley, Italy, in summer and autumn 2009. The aerosol particles were sampled on quartz fiber filters and polytetrafluoroethylene membranes in order to allow Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) analysis and Scanning Electron Microscopy equipped with an Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectrometer (SEM-EDS) investigations, respectively. The organic carbon mass concentrations were measured with a Sunset Laboratory Dual-Optical Organic Carbone/Elemental Carbon (OCEC) Aerosol analyzer. The morphological and chemical analyses by SEM-EDS allowed recognizing four main particle classes: organic, silica, calcite and clay minerals. The organic particles contribute to both fine and coarse aerosol fractions up to ca. 50% for all three agricultural activities. This was also confirmed by OCEC analysis for fine fraction. Most of the agricultural aerosols, about 60%, were single particles and the remaining 40% were agglomerations of particles. The ICP-MS results showed that threshing and plowing produce more aerosol particles than sowing, which was characterized by important amounts of clay minerals produced from land soils.

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