The objective of this work is the study of the distribution of chemical elements in attic dust and topsoil for the identification of anthropogenic (man-made) and geogenic (natural) element sources in an old metallurgic area on a local scale. At 99 sites samples of attic dust and soil (0–5 cm depth) were collected in 90 km2 of the Celje area. Analysis for 42 chemical elements was performed. The geochemical properties of attic dust samples were compared to soils and evaluated in terms of their elemental contents and elemental associations. Based on a comparison of statistical parameters, spatial distribution of particular elements and results of cluster and factor analysis, one natural and three anthropogenic geochemical associations were identified. The natural geochemical association (Al–Ce–K–La–Li–Rb–Sc–Th) is influenced mainly by lithology. The anthropogenic associations are the result of zinc and sulphuric acid production (Ag–As–Cd–Cu–Hg–Mo–Pb–S–Sb–Zn) and iron metallurgy (Co–Cr–Fe–Mn–Ni) in the past. The third anthropogenic association (Nb–Ti) is the result of titanium oxide production which is still in progress.
This study shows that by comparing the geochemical properties of attic dust and topsoil, it is possible to distinguish the natural from anthropogenic element sources. The attic dust proved also to be a very useful sampling medium for local-scale studies.