Pollutant Information: Potassium 

About Potassium

Category: Heavy metals and base cations

Base cations such as potassium are important in the environment because deposition has an impact upon surface pH, causing an increase in alkalinity, thereby buffering or neutralising the effects of acidity generated by sulphur and nitrogen. It is for this reason these emissions are of interest, rather than their negative impacts upon human health or ecosystems. It was long assumed that the major source of base cations in the air was dust from soil erosion, but patterns of concentrations in air and precipitation also suggest significant emissions from urban and industrial sources. Fireworks are the largest source of potassium emissions in 2014, accounting for 28% of total emissions. Iron and steel production was the second largest source (24%), followed by domestic combustion (21%). Annual total emissions have decreased by 78% between 1970 and 2014 mainly due to the decline in the use of coal by power stations, industry and the domestic sector.

» View and Download Potassium emission summary data

Time series graph