Summer–winter contrast in carbon isotope and elemental composition of total suspended particulate matter in the urban atmosphere of Krakow, Southern Poland

  • 1 Faculty of Physics and Applied Computer Science, AGH University of Science and Technology, Al. Mickiewicza 30, 30-059, Krakow, Poland


The city of Krakow located in southern Poland ranks among the most polluted urban agglomerations in Europe. There are persisting controversies with respect to impact of different pollution sources operating in Krakow agglomeration on air quality within the city. The presented pilot study was aimed at exploring the possibilities offered by elemental and carbon isotope composition of total suspended particulate matter (TSPM) for better characterization of its sources in Krakow atmosphere. The analyses of carbon isotope composition of total carbon in the investigated TSPM samples were supplemented by parallel analyses of radiocarbon content in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). This study revealed large seasonal variability of carbon isotope composition in the analysed TSPM samples. This large variability reflects seasonally varying contribution of different sources of fossil and modern carbon to the TSPM pool. The elemental composition of TSPM also reveals distinct seasonal variability of the analysed elements, reflecting varying mixture of natural and anthropogenic sources of those elements. A linear relationship between the fossil carbon load in the TSPM samples and the fossil carbon load in the atmospheric CO2 was found, pointing to the presence of additional source of anthropogenic carbonaceous particles not associated with burning of fossil fuels. Wearing of tyres and asphalt pavement is most probably the main source of such particles.

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