We report for the first time the distribution and hazard potential of aerosol and metals resulting from joss paper burning. Burning joss paper and incense is a traditional custom in many Oriental countries. Large amounts of air pollutants, including particles, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, toxic metals and other gaseous pollutants, are released into the environment during the burning stage. Many investigations have reported on the emission of pollutants from the incense burning. However, no work has been reported until now on the analysis of the released pollutants apart from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. In this study, a micro-orifice uniform-deposit impactor and inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry were, respectively, used to collect aerosols and characterize the toxic metals from joss paper burning. We studied two types of particulate matter (PM): PM 2.5 that are particles with a diameter smaller than 2.5 μm and PM 10 that are particles with a diameter smaller than 10 μm. PM 2.5 are the most potentially toxic particles. Our results showed that PM 2.5 are the major component of the pollutants and that the PM 2.5 to PM 10 ratio ranged from 62 to 99%. The metals Na, Ca, Mg, Al and K were the main species in the aerosol and in the bottom ash.
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