Source identification of coarse particles in the Desert Southwest, USA using Positive Matrix Factorization

Andrea L. Clements, Matthew Fraser, Nabin Upadhyay, Pierre Herckes, Michael Sundblom, Jeffrey Lantz, Paul A. Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The Desert Southwest Coarse Particulate Matter Study was undertaken to further our understanding of the spatial and temporal variability and sources of fine and coarse particulate matter (PM) in rural, arid, desert environments. Sampling was conducted between February 2009 and February 2010 in Pinal County, AZ near the town of Casa Grande where PM concentrations routinely exceed the U.S. National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for both PM10 and PM2.5. In this desert region, exceedances of the PM10 NAAQS are dominated by high coarse particle concentrations, a common occurrence in this region of the United States. This work expands on previously published measurements of PM mass and chemistry by examining the sources of fine and coarse particles and the relative contribution of each to ambient PM mass concentrations using the Positive Matrix Factorization receptor model (Clements et al., 2014). Coarse particles within the region were apportioned to nine sources including primary biological aerosol particles (PBAPs - 25%), crustal material (20%), re-entrained road dust (11%), feedlot (11% at the site closest to a cattle feedlot), secondary particles (10%), boron-rich crustal material (9%), and transported soil (6%), with minor contributions from ammonium nitrate, and salt (considered to be NaCl). Fine particles within the region were apportioned to six sources including motor vehicles (37%), road dust (29%), lead-rich (10%), with minor contributions from brake wear, crustal material, and salt. These results can help guide local air pollution improvement strategies designed to reduce levels of PM to below the NAAQS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)873-884
Number of pages12
JournalAtmospheric Pollution Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • Coarse particles
  • Crustal material
  • Desert aerosols
  • Feedlot
  • Positive matrix factorization
  • Primary biological aerosol particles
  • Road dust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Atmospheric Science


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