Articles | Volume 8, issue 2
Research article
03 Nov 2015
Research article |  | 03 Nov 2015

Confirming anthropogenic influences on the major organic and inorganic constituents of rainwater in an urban area

K. Chon, Y. Kim, D. H. Bae, and J. Cho

Abstract. Recently, rainwater composition affected by atmospheric pollutants has been the topic of intense study in East Asia because of its adverse environmental and human health effects. In the present study, the chemical composition and organic compounds of rainwater were investigated from June to December 2012 at Gwangju in Korea. The aim of this study is to determine the seasonal variation of rainwater chemical composition and to identify possible sources of inorganic and organic compounds. The volume-weighted mean of pH ranged from 3.83 to 8.90 with an average of 5.78. Of rainwater samples, 50 % had pH values below 5.6. The volume-weighted mean concentration (VWMC) of major ions followed the order Cl > SO42− > NH4+ > Na+ > NO3 > Ca2+ > Mg2+ > K+. The VWMC of trace metals decreased in the order Zn > Al > Fe > Mn > Pb > Cu > Ni > Cd > Cr. The VWMCs of major ions and trace metals were higher in winter than in summer. The high enrichment factors indicate that Zn, Pb, Cu, and Cd originated predominantly from anthropogenic sources. Factor analysis (principal component analysis) indicates the influence of anthropogenic pollutants, sea salt, and crustal materials on the chemical compositions of rainwater. Benzoic acids, 1H-isoindole-1,3(2H)-dione, phthalic anhydride, benzene, acetic acids, 1,2-benzenedicarboxylic acids, benzonitrile, acetaldehyde, and acetamide were the most prominent pyrolysis fragments for rainwater organic compounds identified by pyrolysis gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (Py-GC/MS). The results indicate that anthropogenic sources are the most important factors affecting the organic composition of rainwater in an urban area.