A case study of urban particle acidity and its influence on secondary organic aerosol. Zhang, Q., Jimenez, J., L., Worsnop, D., R., & Canagaratna, M. Environmental Science & Technology, 41(9):3213-3219, 2007.
A case study of urban particle acidity and its influence on secondary organic aerosol [pdf]Paper  A case study of urban particle acidity and its influence on secondary organic aerosol [link]Website  abstract   bibtex   
Size-resolved indicators of aerosol acidity, including H+ ion concentrations (H-Aer(+)) and the ratio of stoichiometric neutralization are evaluated in submicrometer aerosols using highly time-resolved aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS) data from Pittsburgh. The pH and ionic strength within the aqueous particle phase are also estimated using the Aerosol Inorganics Model (AIM). Different mechanisms that contribute to the presence of acidic particles in Pittsburgh are discussed. The largest H+ Aer loadings and lowest levels of stoichiometric neutralization were detected when PM1 loadings were high and dominated by SO42-. The average size distribution of H-Aer(+) loading shows an accumulation mode at D-va approximate to 600 nm and an enhanced smaller mode that centers at D-va approximate to 200 nm and tails into smaller sizes. The acidity in the accumulation mode particles suggests that there is generally not enough gas-phase NH3 available on a regional scale to completely neutralize sulfate in Pittsburgh. The lack of stoichiometric neutralization in the 200 nm mode particles is likely caused by the relatively slow mixing of gas-phase NH3 into SO2-rich plumes containing younger particles. We examined the influence of particle acidity on secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation by comparing the mass concentrations and size distributions of oxygenated organic aerosol (OOA-surrogate for SOA in Pittsburgh) during periods when particles are, on average, acidic to those when particles are bulk neutralized. The average mass concentration of OOA during the acidic periods (3.1 +/- 1.7 mu g m(-3)) is higher than that during the neutralized periods (2.5 +/- 1.3 mu g m(-3)). Possible reasons for this enhancement include increased condensation of SOA species, acid-atalyzed SOA formation, and/or differences in air mass transport and history. However, even if the entire enhancement (similar to 0.6 mu g m(-3)) can be attributed to acid catalysis, the upperbound increase of SOA mass in acidic particles is similar to 25%, an enhancement that is much more moderate than the multifold increases in SOA mass observed during some lab studies and inferred in SO2-rich industrial plumes. In addition, the mass spectra of OOA from these two periods are almost identical with no discernible increase in relative signal intensity at larger m/z's (> 200 amu), suggesting that the chemical nature of SOA is similar during acidic and neutralized periods and that there is no significant enhancement of SOA oligomer formation during acidic particle periods in Pittsburgh.

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