Faculty Mentor

Carmen Nezat

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-20-2020


Environmental Science


Heavy metals in particulate matter (e.g., dust) have multiple negative health ramifications for humans including cancer, infertility, and reduced lung function. The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency (SRCAA) has seven air quality monitoring stations around Spokane County to measure total levels of PM2.5 (particles with a diameter less than 2.5 micrometers) and PM10 (particles with a diameter less than 10 micrometers). For comparison, the width of a human hair is between 50 and 70 micrometers. The objective of this research is to examine the heavy metal composition of the particulate matter including elements such as lead, copper, and zinc. We obtained air filters from the SRCAA which had accumulated particulate matter in rural or urban environments including Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge and downtown Spokane over discrete time periods in 2013 and 2014. A microwave digestion method using nitric acid was developed to extract particulate matter from the filters. To determine the heavy metal content of the filters, we are in the process of analyzing the digestions using an inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometer (ICP-OES).

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.