Chemical characteristics and sources of PM2.5 in the urban environment of Seoul, Korea

Seokwon Kang, Siyoung Choi, Jihee Ban, Kyunghoon Kim, Rahul Singh, Gyutae Park, Myeong Bok Kim, Dong Gil Yu, Joo Ae Kim, Sang Woo Kim, Moon Soo Park, Cheol Hee Kim, Meehye Lee, Gookyoung Heo, Yu Woon Jang, Sang Sub Ha, Taehyun Park, Taehyoung Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


In Seoul, Korea, episodes of high concentrations of PM2.5 (particulate matter ≤2.5 μm) continue to occur despite the enforcement of air quality standards. Seoul has several sources of pollution owing to its high population density. Therefore, this study evaluated the chemical characteristics of PM2.5, including inorganic ions and various gases, focusing on those with concentrations exceeding the standard limit. The study was conducted from June 1 to August 22, 2018, in Seongbuk, and from March 29 to May 31, 2019, in Jungnang. Water-soluble inorganic ions of PM2.5 were measured every 30 min using a particle-into-liquid sampler (PILS) combined with two ion chromatographs. In Seongbuk, ammonium sulfate was mainly caused by ammonium-poor conditions. In Jungnang, ammonium nitrate production occurred mainly due to ammonium-rich conditions. In both regions, during the occurrence of concentrations of PM2.5 exceeding the standard limit, the proportion of nitrate among inorganic ions was the highest. In Jungnang, two emission sources located in the west and southwest were identified using a conditional probability function. Contaminants from the southwest had high concentrations of nitrates, presumably due to atmospheric stagnation and nitrate mixing in lower planetary boundary layer height due to an decrease in surface temperatures at dawn. Pollutants from the west had high concentrations of sulfates. These are generated through photochemical reactions from industrial complexes. Cluster analysis confirmed that 27.2% of the air was stagnant and flowed from the south. In most cases, air pollutants originated from western Korea and coastal China.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101568
JournalAtmospheric Pollution Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Nov

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was performed at the National Institute of Environment Research (NIER) , funded by the Ministry of Environment (MOE) of the Republic of Korea ( NIER-2018-22-53-001 , NIER-2019-21-06-001 ). The authors are grateful to the NIER for financial support. We thank the Korea Basic Science Institute (National Research Facilities and Equipment Center) for their financial assistance during the data-processing period. The extended experiment was conducted by Korea Basic Science Institute (National research Facilities and Equipment Center) grant funded by the Ministry of Education ( 2019R1A6C1020041 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Turkish National Committee for Air Pollution Research and Control


  • Aerosol
  • Chemical characteristics
  • Particle-into-liquid sampler
  • PM
  • Seoul air quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Atmospheric Science


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