Organic aerosols (OA) are universally regarded as an important component of the atmosphere that have far-ranging impacts on climate forcing and human health. Many of these impacts are related to OA molecular characteristics. Despite the acknowledged importance, current uncertainties related to the source apportionment of molecular properties and environmental impacts make it difficult to confidently predict the net impacts of OA. Here we evaluate the specific molecular compounds as well as bulk structural properties of total suspended particulates in ambient OA collected from key emission sources (marine, biomass burning, and urban) using ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry (UHR-MS) and proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H NMR). UHR-MS and 1H NMR show that OA within each source is structurally diverse, and the molecular characteristics are described in detail. Principal component analysis (PCA) revealed that (1) aromatic nitrogen species are distinguishing components for these biomass burning aerosols; (2) these urban aerosols are distinguished by having formulas with high O/C ratios and lesser aromatic and condensed aromatic formulas; and (3) these marine aerosols are distinguished by lipid-like compounds of likely marine biological origin. This study provides a unique qualitative approach for enhancing the chemical characterization of OA necessary for molecular source apportionment.
Original Publication Citation
Willoughby, A. S., Wozniak, A. S., & Hatcher, P. G. (2016). Detailed source-specific molecular composition of ambient aerosol organic matter using ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry and 1H NMR. Atmosphere, 7(6), 1-24. doi: 10.3390/atmos7060079
Willoughby, Amanda S.; Wozniak, Andrew S.; and Hatcher, Patrick G., "Detailed Source-Specific Molecular Composition of Ambient Aerosol Organic Matter Using Ultrahigh Resolution Mass Spectrometry and H NMR" (2016). Chemistry & Biochemistry Faculty Publications. 38.