Source Apportionment of Particulate Matter by Application of Machine Learning Clustering Algorithms

Vikas Kumar, Manoranjan Sahu, Pratim Biswas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A source apportionment (SA) study was conducted on two PM2.5 data sets, two carbon fractions and eight temperature-resolved carbon fractions collected during Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS). This study aimed to evaluate two clustering algorithms: k-means clustering (kMC) and spectral clustering (SC) as potential receptor models for source apportionment. The application of kMC produced unsatisfactory results, but the results obtained from SC demonstrated a significant correlation with the results obtained using positive matrix factorization (PMF). The clustering results obtained were associated with practical evidence available in the literature. SC identified six source factors on analyzing two carbon fractions data set and seven factors from eight temperature-resolved carbon fractions data set. The sources (source contribution in parentheses) identified are: combustion (45.9 ± 3.66%) and secondary sulfate (11.4 ± 1.09%), vegetative/wood burning (17.5 ± 1.46%), diesel (10.6 ± 0.92%) and gasoline (3.6 ± 0.33%) vehicles, soil/crustal (2.07 ± 0.2%), traffic (9.3 ± 0.81%), and metal processing (8.8 ± 0.72%). The source profiles obtained using SC also show similarity with the profiles derived using PMF. In summary, this study presented a basic framework for applying Machine Learning algorithms for SA analysis. Also, it presents SC as a potential receptor model technique for SA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number210240
JournalAerosol and Air Quality Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Clustering algorithms
  • Machine learning
  • PM
  • Positive matrix factorization
  • Receptor modeling
  • Source apportionment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution


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