• Article

Assessing sources of airborne mineral dust and other aerosols, in Iraq

Most airborne particulate matter in Iraq comes from mineral dust sources. This paper describes the statistics and modeling of chemical results, specifically those from Teflon® filter samples collected at Tikrit, Balad, Taji, Baghdad, Tallil and Al Asad, in Iraq, in 2006/2007. Methodologies applied to the analytical results include calculation of correlation coefficients, Principal Components Analysis (PCA), and Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) modeling. PCA provided a measure of the covariance within the data set, thereby identifying likely point sources and events. These include airborne mineral dusts of silicate and carbonate minerals, gypsum and salts, as well as anthropogenic sources of metallic fumes, possibly from battery smelting operations, and emissions of leaded gasoline vehicles. Five individual PMF factors (source categories) were modeled, four of which being assigned to components of geological dust, and the fifth to gasoline vehicle emissions together with battery smelting operations. The four modeled geological components, dust-siliceous, dust-calcic, dust-gypsum, and evaporate occur in variable ratios for each site and size fraction (TSP, PM10, and PM2.5), and also vary by season. In general, Tikrit and Taji have the largest and Al Asad the smallest percentages of siliceous dust. In contrast, Al Asad has the largest proportion of gypsum, in part representing the gypsiferous soils in that region. Baghdad has the highest proportions of evaporite in both size fractions, ascribed to the highly salinized agricultural soils, following millennia of irrigation along the Tigris River valley. Although dust storms along the Tigris and Euphrates River valleys originate from distal sources, the mineralogy bears signatures of local soils and air pollutants.


Engelbrecht, JP., & Jayanty, R. (2013). Assessing sources of airborne mineral dust and other aerosols, in Iraq. Aeolian Research, 9, 153-160. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aeolia.2013.02.003