Airborne lead in El Paso, Texas, 1977–1999

Ingrid B Camacho Araujo, University of Texas at El Paso


Airborne lead is an important component of the biogeochemical make-up of ambient air. Most of the lead emitted to the atmosphere has been in the form of particulate matter. This study evaluated airborne lead levels in the El Paso airshed at different intervals over the span of three decades between 1977 and 1999. Levels of lead and related metals for a number of years and from a number of sampling stations in El Paso were available from Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) analyses previously conducted in Prof. Pingitore's laboratory at UTEP. Data consisted of some 200 samples, each a composite of approximately 15 24-hour TSP (total suspended particulates) or PM10 (particulate matter 10 &mgr;m aerodynamic diameter or less) samples taken at 6-day intervals. The composites coincided with the 3 seasonal wind directions observed at the El Paso Airport. Samples were taken from 5 stations: Kern, Tillman (downtown), Northeast, Riverside, and Ivanhoe. The data collected from those samples was analyzed and plotted by use of a temporal graphical analysis in order to observe both decadal and seasonal trends in airborne lead. Based on the analysis it was concluded that the airborne lead levels in El Paso decreased by approximately 99% from 1977 thru 1999. Significant "lead events" such as the phasedown in leaded gasoline, technological modifications to reduce emissions in ASARCO and its closing, and the ban of lead-based paint were three of the most important factors that contributed to the decrease on airborne lead levels locally.

Subject Area

Environmental Health|Environmental Studies

Recommended Citation

Camacho Araujo, Ingrid B, "Airborne lead in El Paso, Texas, 1977–1999" (2011). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1494335.