Selenium is determined by instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA), based on measurement of the long-lived 75Se nuclide. In the urban and industrialized areas of Portugal selenium contents have been found of the order of of 0.5-1 ng/m3 in PM10 and PM2.5, according to the data collected since 1994. From November 12, 2001 and for not more than 3 months, the Se contents in PM10 and PM2.5 increased by a factor of 1000 in the northern area of Lisbon. More than other nutrients, selenium illustrates the dichotomy between essentiality and toxicity. There is no legislation on Se for ambient air and on indoor ambient point threshold limit values (US and Germany legislation), were 100 times higher than the abnormal values found that winter. The increase was also visible for mercury although not to such an extent. Attempts were made to understand the trend, going into a study of the emission sources located in the area using both INAA and PIXE. It was concluded that the observation occurred due to abnormal meteorological wind direction, which pushed the pollutants towards the populated area, when usually they flow into the Tagus estuary.