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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Biological Fingerprinting of Dust Aerosols

Authors
item Kennedy, Ann
item Busacca, Alan - WASHINGTON STATE UNIV.

Submitted to: Dust Aerosol, Loess Soils and Climate Change Meeting
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: December 1, 1998
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Wind erosion not only reduces the productivity of prime farmland, but causes air pollution which can adversely impact off-site economics. One of the major problems in air quality assessment is the determination of the origin or source of the particles trapped in receptors. Air quality problems are mainly unresolved because current technology often does not enable identification of the nonpoint sources of pollution where control measures are needed. While many may consider dust in the air to be dry and lifeless even inert particles, in fact soil is teaming with life. Since soil is composed of distinct microbial and the remains of plant communities, biological analyses may aid in identifying the source of air- borne particles. Biological analyses can be sensitive enough to accurately identify the source location of a sample by its biological fingerprint. FAME analyses of soils were useful for differentiating soils from various locations and management systems, thus have potential for identifying sources of displaced material. This analysis can be used on particulate matter from air, soil and water or sediments. This information will not only assist in source identification, but will aid in verifying transport modeling efforts. These investigations illustrate the use of molecular technology, such as FAME analysis, to identify displaced soil material.

Technical Abstract: Our soil resource is being depleted by wind and water erosion. In order to implement control measures to reduce nonpoint dust emissions, it is necessary to distinguish among the relative contributions from specific regions. Since soil is composed of distinct microbial and the remains of plant communities, biological analyses may aid in identifying the source of displaced particles. Fatty acid methyl ester fingerprints were generated and were found to be unique and reproducible, although slight variations in the profiles were evident with sampling time. The fingerprints from samples taken from road sites were dissimilar from agricultural sites. Agricultural soils exhibited unique patterns depending on their origin. The successful development of this method will provide a powerful tool for identifying sources of displaced soil. This information will not only assist in source identification, but will aid in verifying modeling efforts of wind and sediment movement.

Last Modified: 10/25/2014
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