This study reports the results of an experimental research project carried out in Bologna, a midsize town in central Po valley, with the aim at characterizing local aerosol chemistry and tracking the main source emissions of airborne particulate matter. Chemical speciation based upon ions, trace elements, and carbonaceous matter is discussed on the basis of seasonal variation and enrichment factors. For the first time, source apportionment was achieved at this location using two widely used receptor models (principal component analysis/multi-linear regression analysis (PCA/MLRA) and positive matrix factorization (PMF)). Four main aerosol sources were identified by PCA/MLRA and interpreted as: resuspended particulate and a pseudo-marine factor (winter street management), both related to the coarse fraction, plus mixed combustions and secondary aerosol largely associated to traffic and long-lived species typical of the fine fraction. The PMF model resolved six main aerosol sources, interpreted as: mineral dust, road dust, traffic, secondary aerosol, biomass burning and again a pseudo-marine factor. Source apportionment results from both models are in good agreement providing a 30 and a 33 % by weight respectively for PCA-MLRA and PMF for the coarse fraction and 70 % (PCA-MLRA) and 67 % (PMF) for the fine fraction. The episodic influence of Saharan dust transport on PM10 exceedances in Bologna was identified and discussed in term of meteorological framework, composition, and quantitative contribution.
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