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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 17, issue 16 | Copyright
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 17, 10093-10107, 2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 29 Aug 2017

Research article | 29 Aug 2017

Temporal evolution of main ambient PM2. 5 sources in Santiago, Chile, from 1998 to 2012

Francisco Barraza1,4, Fabrice Lambert1,4, Héctor Jorquera2,5, Ana María Villalobos2, and Laura Gallardo3,4 Francisco Barraza et al.
  • 1Geography Institute, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, 7820436, Chile
  • 2Department of Chemical Engineering and Bioprocesses, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, 7820436, Chile
  • 3Department of Geophysics, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile
  • 4Center for Climate and Resilience Research, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile
  • 5Center for Sustainable Urban Development (CEDEUS), Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, 7820436, Chile

Abstract. The inhabitants of Santiago, Chile have been exposed to harmful levels of air pollutants for decades. The city's poor air quality is a result of steady economic growth, and stable atmospheric conditions adverse to mixing and ventilation that favor the formation of oxidants and secondary aerosols. Identifying and quantifying the sources that contribute to the ambient levels of pollutants is key for designing adequate mitigation measures. Estimating the evolution of source contributions to ambient pollution levels is also paramount to evaluating the effectiveness of pollution reduction measures that have been implemented in recent decades. Here, we quantify the main sources that have contributed to fine particulate matter (PM2. 5) between April 1998 and August 2012 in downtown Santiago by using two different source-receptor models (PMF 5.0 and UNMIX 6.0) that were applied to elemental measurements of 1243 24h filter samples of ambient PM2.5. PMF resolved six sources that contributed to ambient PM2. 5, with UNMIX producing similar results: motor vehicles (37.3±1.1%), industrial sources (18.5±1.3%), copper smelters (14.4±0.8%), wood burning (12.3±1.0%), coastal sources (9.5±0.7%) and urban dust (3.0±1.2%). Our results show that over the 15 years analyzed here, four of the resolved sources significantly decreased [95% confidence interval]: motor vehicles 21.3% [2.6, 36.5], industrial sources 39.3% [28.6, 48.4], copper smelters 81.5% [75.5, 85.9], and coastal sources 58.9% [38.5, 72.5], while wood burning did not significantly change and urban dust increased by 72% [48.9, 99.9]. These changes are consistent with emission reduction measures, such as improved vehicle emission standards, cleaner smelting technology, introduction of low-sulfur diesel for vehicles and natural gas for industrial processes, public transport improvements, etc. However, it is also apparent that the mitigation expected from the above regulations has been partially offset by the increasing amount of private vehicle use in the city, with motor vehicles becoming the dominant source of ambient PM2. 5 in recent years. Consequently, Santiago still experiences ambient PM2. 5 levels above the annual and 24h Chilean and World Health Organization standards, and further regulations are required to reach ambient air quality standards.

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We quantify the main sources that have contributed to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) between 1998 and 2012 in Santiago's downtown. We calculate the long-term trend as well as abrupt changes in the time series and show how these relate to particular government policies implemented to improve air quality in specific years. We thus identify which measures successfully reduced individual sources and which sources need measures to avoid episodes when PM2.5 concentrations surpass Chilean standards.
We quantify the main sources that have contributed to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) between...