||Fuquan Yang, Abdulla Al Mamun, Irene Cheng, Xin Qiu, Leiming Zhang,
Contributions of the oil sands sources to the ambient concentrations and deposition of particulate elements in the Canadian Athabasca oil sands region,
Science of The Total Environment,
Abstract: In this study, model sensitivity tests were conducted to investigate the relative contributions between emission sources of oil sands (OS) activities and other sources to the ambient concentrations and deposition of 29 particulate elements in the Athabasca oil sands region (AOSR) of Canada. Element emission sources from a recently developed emission database were grouped into three source sectors for elements in PM2.5 (OS-Industrial, OS-Dust, and Non-OS) and two source sectors for elements in PM2.5–10 (OS-All and Non-OS). The OS-Dust and OS-Industrial sectors (combined as one sector for PM2.5–10; OS-All) included element sources linked to dust and other industrial activities from the OS activities, respectively, whereas the Non-OS sector included remaining sources in the region, unrelated to the OS activities. The OS-Industrial, OS-Dust, and Non-OS emissions (tonnes/year) of all elements in PM2.5 were 326, 1430, and 562, respectively. The OS-All and Non-OS emissions (tonnes/year) of all elements in PM2.5–10 were 5890 and 2900, respectively. The element concentrations were simulated by the CALPUFF dispersion model. The sum of the domain averaged annual mean concentrations of all elements in PM2.5 and PM2.5–10 from all sources were 57.3 ng/m3 and 30.4 ng/m3, respectively. Except for Co (PM2.5 and PM2.5–10), Sb (PM2.5–10), and Sn (PM2.5–10), major proportions (≥ 59 %) of the ambient concentrations of the individual elements were linked to the OS source sector. Overall, the OS sector was responsible for 78 % and 68 % of the sum of the mean ambient concentrations of all elements in PM2.5 and PM2.5–10, respectively, which are close to the corresponding emission contributions (76 % and 67 %, respectively). Likewise, the bulk proportion (∼74 %) of the sum of the total atmospheric deposition of all elements was also associated with the OS sources. Carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic risks associated with inhalation exposure to airborne elements were below the recommended threshold risk levels.
Keywords: Trace elements; CALPUFF; Metal emission; Oil sands; Carcinogenic effects; Deposition of metals