Source apportionment of heavy metals and ionic contaminants in rainwater tanks in a subtropical urban area in Australia

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Huston, R
Chan, YC
Chapman, H
Gardner, T
Shaw, G
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2012
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Due to prolonged droughts in recent years, the use of rainwater tanks in urban areas has increased in Australia. In order to apportion sources of contribution to heavy metal and ionic contaminants in rainwater tanks in Brisbane, a subtropical urban area in Australia, monthly tank water samples (24 sites, 31 tanks) and concurrent bulk deposition samples (18 sites) were collected during mainly April 2007-March 2008. The samples were analysed for acid-soluble metals, soluble anions, total inorganic carbon and total organic carbon, and characteristics such as total solid and pH. The Positive Matrix Factorisation model, EPA PMF 3.0, was used to apportion sources of contribution to the contaminants. Four source factors were identified for the bulk deposition samples, including 'crustal matter/sea salt', 'car exhausts/road side dust', 'industrial dust' and 'aged sea salt/secondary aerosols'. For the tank water samples, apart from these atmospheric deposition related factors which contributed in total to 65% of the total contaminant concentration on average, another six rainwater collection system related factors were identified, including 'plumbing', 'building material', 'galvanizing', 'roofing', 'steel' and 'lead flashing/paint' (contributing in total to 35% of the total concentration on average). The Australian Drinking Water Guideline for lead was exceeded in 15% of the tank water samples. The collection system related factors, in particular the 'lead flashing/paint' factor, contributed to 79% of the lead in the tank water samples on average. The concentration of lead in tank water was found to vary with various environmental and collection system factors, in particular the presence of lead flashing on the roof. The results also indicated the important role of sludge dynamics inside the tank on the quality of tank water.

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Water Research

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46

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4

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Atmospheric composition, chemistry and processes

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