Source apportionment and environmental fate of lead chromates in atmospheric dust in arid environments

Diana Meza-Figueroa*, Belem González-Grijalva, Francisco Romero, Joaquin Ruiz, Martín Pedroza-Montero, Carlos Ibañez Del Rivero, Mónica Acosta-Elías, Lucas Ochoa-Landin, Sofía Navarro-Espinoza

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The environmental fate of lead derived from traffic paint has been poorly studied in developing countries, mainly in arid zones. For this purpose, a developing city located in the Sonoran desert (Hermosillo, Mexico), was chosen to conduct a study. In this paper the lead chromate (crocoite) sources in atmospheric dust were addressed using a combination of Raman microspectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and Pb isotope measurements. A high concentration of Pb and Cr as micro- and nanostructured pigments of crocoite is reported in yellow traffic paint (n = 80), road dust (n = 146), settled dust in roofs (n = 21), and atmospheric dust (n = 20) from a developing city located in the Sonoran Desert. 10 samples of peri-urban soils were collected for local geochemical background. The paint photodegradation and erosion of the asphaltic cover are enhanced by the climate, and the presence of the mineral crocoite (PbCrO4) in road dust with an aerodynamic diameter ranging from 100 nm to 2 μm suggests its integration into the atmosphere by wind resuspension processes. A positive Pb–Cr correlation (R2 = 0.977) was found for all studied samples, suggesting a common source. The Pb-isotope data show signatures in atmospheric dust as a product of the mixing of two end members: i) local soils and ii) crocoite crystals as pigments in paint. The presence of lead chromates in atmospheric dust has not been previously documented in Latin America, and it represents an unknown health risk to the exposed population because the identified size of crystals can reach the deepest part of lungs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1596-1607
Number of pages12
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 15 Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.


  • Atmospheric dust
  • Lead chromates
  • Lead isotopes
  • Road dust
  • Roofs
  • Yellow traffic paint


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