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We have investigated two buildings covered with Zsolnay glazed architectural ceramics in Budapest (Hungary), one located in the densely built-up area of the city centre with a high traffic rate and one in a city quarter with moderate traffic and more open space. A black crust layer, containing a large amount of artificial particulate matter with different size and chemical composition, was observed on the ceramic material of both buildings, whereas weathered glaze was detected only on the ceramics of the building situated in the city centre. In this paper, our goal is to reveal the role of the particulate matter in the degradation of architectural ceramics. For this reason the attic dust and settled dust from the roofs of the studied buildings were collected. In the attic dust, besides the natural particles of geological origin, three types of artificial particles typically with spherical shape (spherules) were also distinguished: aluminosilicate (two subtypes), carbonaceous, and iron-rich fly-ash. The appearance of gypsum crystallites around the particulate matter in association with all spherule types suggests that the particulate matter greatly contributes to the degradation process.

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