Impact of agricultural activity on PM2.5 and its compositions in elementary schools near corn and rice farms

Chien Cheng Jung, Chia Yu Huang, Huey Jen Su, Nai Tzu Chen, Chia Ling Yeh

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Agricultural activity is an important source of particulate matter <2.5 μm in size (PM2.5) in rural areas. In Taiwan, many elementary schools are surrounded by farms, and studies investigating the impact of agricultural activity on air quality in schools are required. We collected PM2.5 samples from the classrooms of elementary schools near corn and rice farms during the crop cultivation stages and analyzed their concentrations and compositions to investigate whether agricultural activity affects the schools' air quality. We found that the average ratio of PM2.5/PM10 (<10 μm in particle size) was <0.6 in the school near the corn farm, and that the indoor PM2.5/PM10 ratio was significantly associated (r = 0.93, p < 0.05) with the outdoor ratio. Moreover, the potassium (K) concentration in the school near the corn farm (189.2 ± 119 ng/m3) was higher than that near the rice farm (140.9 ± 116.0 ng/m3). There were higher concentrations of K and crustal elements, and a greater crustal elements/heavy metals ratio, in the school near the corn farm during the sowing and soil covering stages than during other cultivation stages. Positive matrix factorization (PMF) results indicate that agricultural activity was a predominant contributor of PM2.5 in the schools near corn and rice farms, however, PM2.5 from industrial and traffic emissions also affected schools' air quality. In summary, agricultural activity influenced the air quality of schools, especially near the corn farm. Governments should develop air quality management policies to reduce the risk of children suffering exposure to high particle concentrations in these schools and further suggest that the impact of industrial and traffic emissions on air quality also requires attention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number167496
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2024 Jan 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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