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Multimodal imaging of airborne particulate matter (PM) pollution as a means of source apportionment

Project Description

Airborne particulate matter (PM) is a key risk factor for premature death (8.9 million per annum worldwide) and reduced quality of life due to a range of diseases of the respiratory and cardiovascular system, with growing evidence for roles in metabolic and cognitive impairments [1]. Much of our understanding of particulate matter composition derives from bulk measures e.g. elemental composition of PM-loaded filters. However, this neglects the potential for heterogeneity between particles and requires advanced statistical techniques applied to 50-100 samples to apportion the source of the pollution. This project will use state-of-the-art imaging and chemical analysis techniques in a highly novel correlative manner to facilitate the rapid analysis of individual particle chemistry within bulk samples of PM [2]. This will allow the contribution of multiple anthropogenic sources to single filters to be determined without the need for extended sampling runs. This technique will then be extended to the analysis of leaf-surface PM. By applying this technique to leaves collected from around the port city of Southampton we will have a powerful tool for low-cost chemical analysis and source apportionment of urban PM at a high spatial granularity.

Funding Notes

You can apply for fully-funded studentships (stipend and fees) from INSPIRE if you:
Are a UK or EU national.
Have no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK.
Have been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the project.

Please click View Website for more information on eligibilty and how to apply


[1] Burnett, R. et al. (2018) Global estimates of mortality associated with long-term exposure to outdoor fine particulate matter, PNAS, 115, 9592-9597, doi:10.1073/pnas.1803222115.
[x] Robinson, M.S., Grgic, I. Selih, V.S., Sala, M. Bitsui, M., van Elteren, J.T. (2017) Laser ablation ICP-MS of size-segregated atmospheric particles collected with a MOUDI cascade impactor: a proof of concept, Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 10, 1823-1830, doi:10.5194/amt-10-1823-2017
[y] Bauer, G., Achleitner, B., Bonta, M., Friedbacher, G., and Limbeck, A. (2017) Analysis of single fly ash particles using laser ablation ICP-MS – an approach achieving lateral elemental distribution information via imaging, RSC Advances, 7, 20510, doi: 10.1039/c7ra00975e

How good is research at University of Southampton in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 68.62

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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