Determination of trace element concentrations in atmospheric aerosols is important because of their toxic effects on human health. Additionally, they are now widely used in source apportionment studies. There is a number of methods for sample preparation of ambient particulate matter. One of the most widely used is microwave-assisted digestion of filter-based samples. Since the water-soluble fraction is bioavaliable, the aim of our study was to determine the concentration of selected trace elements (V, Cr, Mn, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Cd, Sb, Tl, and Pb) in this fraction and compare it to the amounts obtained by two different microwave digestion procedures - one using a mixture of H 2O 2 and HNO 3 and the other using a mixture of HF, HCl, and HNO 3. The recoveries of the digestion procedures used were tested on certified reference material (NIST SRM 1648 Urban Particulate Matter). The procedures were applied to filters containing PM 10 particles collected at an urban background location in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Among the elements analysed, V, Zn, As, and Cd displayed the highest concentration within the water-soluble fraction, with Cr, Ni, Tl and Pb displaying the lowest concentrations. The comparison between the two applied digestion procedures showed that Cr, Ni, Sb and Tl were strongly bound to the sample matrix.
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