We have used rock magnetic techniques in this study to assess atmospheric pollution at five stations in and around Mangalore city on the southwestern coast of India. Samples of dust were collected from two suburban areas (Thokkottu and Pumpwell located respectively ~10km and 3km from the city center), the city center itself (Milagres) and industrial/port areas (Panambur and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (MRPL)). Low-frequency magnetic susceptibility (χlf), frequency-dependent susceptibility (χfd), susceptibility of anhysteretic remanent magnetization (χARM) and isothermal remanent magnetization (IRM 20 to 1000mT) were determined on 23 dust samples and inter-parametric ratios calculated. Results show that samples from suburban areas (particularly Thokkottu) are characterized by low χlf (<314.1×10-8m3kg-1) and up to 6% χfd, suggesting low levels of pollution and the presence of pedogenic magnetite possibly derived from soils by wind erosion. However, the average χlf of Milagres, Panambur and MRPL dust samples is high by factors of 9.2, 3.3 and 2.6 compared to that of the Thokkottu sample. The Milagres sample contains magnetically "soft" minerals like magnetite, possibly indicating its derivation from motor vehicle exhaust. In contrast, the Panambur dust sample is characterized by magnetically "hard" minerals such as hematite and goethite as it has an 8-fold higher HIRM value compared to the Thokkottu sample. This magnetic signature is perhaps the result of dust particles derived from the grinding of hematite-rich iron ore by the Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited (KIOCL) at Panambur and its storage and export through the nearby New Mangalore Port. However, the dust sample from MRPL has magnetically "soft" minerals like magnetite. This magnetic mineral may have originated from petroleum refining processes at MRPL. Particulate pollution from industrial activities and motor vehicle exhaust is a threat to human health and is known to cause cardiovascular and respiratory ailments. Therefore, the pollution levels brought out by this study warrant a comprehensive epidemiological study in the area of study.
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