This paper focuses on a study of fine (less than 2.5 µm) airborne particles collected inside seven primary schools located on a coastal Mediterranean area which has a significant industrial hub for the processing of clays and other minerals as raw materials. Of the seven schools, three are located in an urban area 20 km away from the main industrial hub, three are in a town located next to the industrial estate, and one is in a rural location, 30 km from the industrial area. The objective of this study is to identify the main types of particles found in the three examined environments. The particle matter identified in the fine particle samples is grouped into three main groups: mineral compounds, particles from combustion processes and phases emitted in high-temperature industrial processes. The mineral particles, which can come from natural or anthropogenic emissions, have been classified depending on their morphology as isometric allotriomorphs or subidiomorphs, with a tabular habit; acicular forms; or pure crystalline forms. Compounds from combustion processes have two types of morphologies: spheroid and dendritic soot particles. Additionally, in smaller quantities, spherical particles associated with high-temperature industrial processes, such as the emissions of ceramic tile-firing and frit-melting processes, are identified. A summary table is shown, which lists the characteristics, as well as the most significant origin of the main particles identified in the fine (<2.5 μm) airborne particles collected inside primary schools located in three different environments (urban, industrial and rural). A visual scale has been established based on the number of particles observed in the samples of the atmospheric particulate fraction between the sizes of 2.5 and 10 µm collected inside the schools. The ratios Ca/Si, S/Si, S/Ca and (Si+Ca)/S have been established. Results obtained may be useful in epidemiological studies in the ceramic cluster area in order to estimate children’s exposure to different indoor primary school microenvironments. Effective policies and mitigation measurements for the protection of children’s health should be carried out in this highly industrialized area.
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