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Atmosphere 2015, 6(8), 1175-1194;

Study of Black Sand Particles from Sand Dunes in Badr, Saudi Arabia Using Electron Microscopy

Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Albany, New York, NY 12201, USA
Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University at Albany, Albany, New York, NY 12201, USA
Unit for AinZubaida and Groundwater Research, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah 21589, Saudi Arabia
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 625 Broadway, Albany, New York, NY 12233, USA
Chemistry Department, University of Karachi, Karachi 75270, Pakistan
Civil Engineering Department, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah 21589, Saudi Arabia
Department of Chemistry, University of California-Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697, USA
School of Medicine, Umm Ul Qura University, Mecca 21955, Saudi Arabia
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Armin Sorooshian
Received: 28 February 2015 / Revised: 30 June 2015 / Accepted: 7 July 2015 / Published: 17 August 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Composition Observations)
Full-Text   |   PDF [3195 KB, uploaded 17 August 2015]   |  


Particulate air pollution is a health concern. This study determines the microscopic make-up of different varieties of sand particles collected at a sand dune site in Badr, Saudi Arabia in 2012. Three categories of sand were studied: black sand, white sand, and volcanic sand. The study used multiple high resolution electron microscopies to study the morphologies, emission source types, size, and elemental composition of the particles, and to evaluate the presence of surface “coatings or contaminants” deposited or transported by the black sand particles. White sand was comprised of natural coarse particles linked to wind-blown releases from crustal surfaces, weathering of igneous/metamorphic rock sources, and volcanic activities. Black sand particles exhibited different morphologies and microstructures (surface roughness) compared with the white sand and volcanic sand. Morphological Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and Laser Scanning Microscopy (LSM) analyses revealed that the black sand contained fine and ultrafine particles (50 to 500 nm ranges) and was strongly magnetic, indicating the mineral magnetite or elemental iron. Aqueous extracts of black sands were acidic (pH = 5.0). Fe, C, O, Ti, Si, V, and S dominated the composition of black sand. Results suggest that carbon and other contaminant fine particles were produced by fossil-fuel combustion and industrial emissions in heavily industrialized areas of Haifa and Yanbu, and transported as cloud condensation nuclei to Douf Mountain. The suite of techniques used in this study has yielded an in-depth characterization of sand particles. Such information will be needed in future environmental, toxicological, epidemiological, and source apportionment studies. View Full-Text
Keywords: particulate; urban aerosols; Saudi Arabia; sand; scanning electron microscopy particulate; urban aerosols; Saudi Arabia; sand; scanning electron microscopy

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Khwaja, H.A.; Aburizaiza, O.S.; Hershey, D.L.; Siddique, A.; E., D.A.G.P.; Zeb, J.; Abbass, M.; Blake, D.R.; Hussain, M.M.; Aburiziza, A.J.; Kramer, M.A.; Simpson, I.J. Study of Black Sand Particles from Sand Dunes in Badr, Saudi Arabia Using Electron Microscopy. Atmosphere 2015, 6, 1175-1194.

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