Functional group composition of organic aerosol from combustion emissions and secondary processes at two contrasted urban environments


  • El Haddad I.
  • Marchand N.
  • d'Anna B.
  • Jaffrezo J. L.
  • Wortham Henri

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The quantification of major functional groups in atmospheric organic aerosol (OA) provides a constraint on the types of compounds emitted and formed in atmospheric conditions. This paper presents functional group composition of organic aerosol from two contrasted urban environments: Marseille during summer and Grenoble during winter. Functional groups were determined using a tandem mass spectrometry approach, enabling the quantification of carboxylic (RCOOH), carbonyl (RCOR'), and nitro (RNO2) functional groups. Using a multiple regression analysis, absolute concentrations of functional groups were combined with those of organic carbon derived from different sources in order to infer the functional group contents of different organic aerosol fractions. These fractions include fossil fuel combustion emissions, biomass burning emissions and secondary organic aerosol (SOA). Results clearly highlight the differences between functional group fingerprints of primary and secondary OA fractions. OA emitted from primary sources is found to be moderately functionalized, as about 20 carbons per 1000 bear one of the functional groups determined here, whereas SOA is much more functionalized, as in average 94 carbons per 1000 bear a functional group under study. Aging processes appear to increase both RCOOH and RCOR' functional group contents by nearly one order of magnitude. Conversely, RNO2 content is found to decrease with photochemical processes. Finally, our results also suggest that other functional groups significantly contribute to biomass smoke and SOA. In particular, for SOA, the overall oxygen content, assessed using aerosol mass spectrometer measurements by an 0:C ratio of 0.63, is significantly higher than the apparent 0:C* ratio of 0.17 estimated based on functional groups measured here. A thorough examination of our data suggests that this remaining unexplained oxygen content can be most probably assigned to alcohol (ROH), organic peroxides (ROOH), organonitrates (RONO2) and/or organosulfates (ROSO3H). (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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