This study was designed to evaluate the atmospheric total suspended particle (TSP) and particulate matter (PM10) concentrations and temporal variability in one of the world’s largest open-pit coal mines (El Cerrejon) located in northeast Colombia, during 2012–2016. The results showed overall average TSP and PM10 concentrations of 86 μg m −3 (CI95% 84–88 μg m −3) and 34 μg m −3 (CI95% 33–35 μg m −3), respectively, with the highest concentrations between March and August each year. A time trend analysis of the results revealed that PM10 concentrations in particular have significantly increased between 6.2 and 7.7% per year (CI95% 1.2–12.8% year−1) in several of the monitoring stations. Meteorological parameters were also evaluated. It was observed that NE winds with speeds above 2 m s−1 were significantly correlated with an increase in the concentration of PM10 for selected downwind sites, which suggested that coal mining operations are an important source of atmospheric PM in the area. Regional long-range atmospheric transport scenarios showed potential effects on neighboring municipalities and countries within 72-h transportation events. These highlighted the need to develop new strategies to control the emissions of PM from the local mining industry to comply with local and international guidelines and regulations, particularly when industrial expansion is planned for the near future and relatively large population centers are in the area, of which a high proportion belong to indigenous populations.
Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 12, 2018
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