Statistical distributions of trace metal concentrations in the northwestern Mediterranean atmospheric aerosol
The concentrations of 11 crustal and anthropogenic trace metals (Li, Al, V, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb) were measured from 2006 to 2008 in the atmospheric aerosol at a northwestern Mediterranean coast (station of Cap Ferrat, situated on the southeastern coast of France). Statistical models (lognormal, Weibull, and gamma) that best represented the trace metal distribution for this environment are described. The lognormal model was selected for the distributions of (in decreasing strength of the fit) Al, Co, Li, Zn, Mn, Cu, Pb, and Cd, i.e., metals that are introduced into the atmospheric aerosol by pulses inducing temporal variability in their concentrations. The gamma model was associated with Fe, i.e., metals that exhibit less inter-annual variability than the former trace metals. The third mode (Weibull) represented the distribution of the concentrations of V and Ni. The statistical approach presented in this study contributed to better define and constrain the distribution of the 11 trace metals of the atmospheric aerosol from the northwestern Mediterranean coast. In a close future, knowledge of these statistical distributions will allow using convolution models to separate their natural and anthropogenic contributions, therefore increasing our ability to study anthropogenic emissions of trace metals and their impact on the environment.