Long-term variation, solubility and transport pathway of PM2.5-bound iron in a megacity of northern China

Dongsheng Ji, Yu Liu, Xiaojuan Xu, Jun He, Yuesi Wang

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


Although particulate Fe has a significant impact on human health, atmospheric chemical reactions, air quality, climate change, and ecosystems, there is a lack of long-term continuous hourly observation on particulate Fe in the megacity of Beijing, limiting research on these issues. To address this gap, this study continuously measured hourly concentrations of Fe in PM2.5 from October 2018 to October 2022 in Beijing. The results indicate an overall decline in Fe concentrations, consistent with previous studies in Beijing. This decline can be attributed to multiple factors, such as reduced coal consumption, restrictions on biomass burning, increased use of clean energy, advanced technologies for industrial emission reduction, and efforts to control fugitive dust. Seasonal variations in Fe concentrations were similar across the various years, with higher mean concentrations in spring, fall, and winter, and lower levels in summer. Daily variations in PM2.5-bound Fe concentrations exhibited two peaks, influenced by changes in emission intensity and the evolution of the planetary boundary layer. The solubility of PM2.5-bound Fe exhibited a wide range, varying from 4 % to 95 %, surpassing previously reported source-specific values. This variability can be attributed to acid dissolution effects and complexation behaviors. Nonparametric wind regression analysis identified distinct hotspots (higher concentrations) in the northwest wind sector at wind speeds of approximately 5–15 km/h, which are associated with blowing dust and dust storms. Additionally, the potential source contribution function analysis identified high-potential source areas were precisely located in the northwestern, western, and southern regions of Beijing, rather than primarily in the southern areas recorded in a previous study. This research provides valuable insights for studying the health effects and migration and transformation of nutrient elements, particularly particulate Fe, in Beijing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number167984
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2024


  • Atmospheric transport
  • Frequency distributions
  • Levels of PM-bound Fe
  • Solubility
  • Temporal variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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