In this work, the seasonal variations and sources of trace metal elements in atmospheric fine aerosols (PM2.5
) were investigated for a year-long field campaign from July 2012 to June 2013, conducted in suburban Nanjing, eastern China, at a site adjacent to an industry zone. The PM2.5
samples collected across four seasons were analyzed for 17 metal elements, namely, Sodium (Na), Magnesium (Mg), Aluminum (Al), Vanadium (V), Chromium (Cr), Manganese (Mn), Nickel (Ni), Copper (Cu), Zinc (Zn), Arsenic (As), Selenium (Se), Strontium (Sr), Cadmium (Cd), Barium (Ba), Lead (Pb), Molybdenum (Mo), and Antimony (Sb) using an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). We found that the total concentration of all 17 metal elements was 1.23 μg/m3
, on average accounting for 1.0% of the total PM2.5
mass. For our data, mass concentrations of Al, Cd, Ba were highest in summer, Mg, Cu, Zn, Se, Pb peaked in autumn, Cr, Mn, Ni, As, Sr, Sb increased significantly in winter, while the concentrations of Na, V, Mo were at their highest levels in spring. Air mass back trajectory analysis suggested that air parcels that arrived at the site originated from four dominant regions (Japan, yellow sea and bohai; Southeast of China, the Pacific Ocean; Southwest of Jiangsu and Anhui province; Northern Asia inland and Mongolia region), in particular, the one from Northern Asia inland and Mongolia contained the highest concentrations of As, Sb, Sr, and was predominant in winter. Positive matrix factorization (PMF) analyses revealed that the industrial emission is the largest contributor (34%) of the observed metal elements, followed by traffic (25%), soil dust (19%), coal combustion (10%), incineration of electronic waste (9%), and a minor unknown source (3%). In addition, we have also investigated the morphology and composition of particles by using the scanning electron microscopy (SEM)/energy-dispersive spectrometry (EDS) techniques, and identified particles from coal burning sources, etc., similar to the PMF results.