Urban oxidation flow reactor measurements reveal significant secondary organic aerosol contributions from volatile emissions of emerging importance

Publication Information:

Shah, R.U., M.M. Coggon, G. Gkatzelis, B. McDonald, A. Tasoglou, H. Huber, J.B. Gilman, C. Warneke, A.L. Robinson, and A.A. Presto, (2019), “Urban oxidation flow reactor measurements reveal significant secondary organic aerosol contributions from volatile emissions of emerging importance,” Environ. Sci. Technol. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.9b06531

Year: 2019

Mobile sampling studies have revealed enhanced levels of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) in source-rich urban environments. While these enhancements can be from rapidly reacting vehicular emissions, it was recently hypothesized that nontraditional emissions (volatile chemical products and upstream emissions) are emerging as important sources of urban SOA. We tested this hypothesis by using gas and aerosol mass spectrometry coupled with an oxidation flow reactor (OFR) to characterize pollution levels and SOA potentials in environments influenced by traditional emissions (vehicular, biogenic), and nontraditional emissions (e.g., paint fumes). We used two SOA models to assess contributions of vehicular and biogenic emissions to our observed SOA. The largest gap between observed and modeled SOA potential occurs in the morning-time urban street canyon environment, for which our model can only explain half of our observation. Contributions from VCP emissions (e.g., personal care products) are highest in this environment, suggesting that VCPs are an important missing source of precursors that would close the gap between modeled and observed SOA potential. Targeted OFR oxidation of nontraditional emissions shows that these emissions have SOA potentials that are similar, if not larger, compared to vehicular emissions. Laboratory experiments reveal large differences in SOA potentials of VCPs, implying the need for further characterization of these nontraditional emissions.

 

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