Use of statistical multivariate analysis to identify sources emitting particulate matter in Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Abstract Particulate matter is the mixture of solid and liquid particles. It may at times cause adverse effects to human health, in the climate, ecosystem and materials. The objective of this study was to identify the sources emitting particulate matter that contributes to environmental pollution at two sites in Belo Horizonte city. The metropolitan region of Belo Horizonte is characterized by numerous mining activities and other industries, high population and, consequently, a high number of vehicles. There are therefore several sources emitting pollutants into the atmosphere. Airborne particulate matter was collected in air filters during approximately one year using a high-volume sampler in strategic points. The concentration of particulate matter results showed that, in general, the values were 40% higher than the values recommended by legislation. During the summer rainy season, no sample exceeded the recommended limits at both sampling sites. The elemental composition was determined through neutron activation analysis and these values were considered variables in the multivariate statistical analysis for the identification of the main sources of particle emission and their contributions. The results confirmed a significant influence of the soil and motor vehicles in the degradation of the region’s air quality.