Chemical characterisation of single airborne particles in Athens (Greece) by ATOFMS

Manuel Dall'Osto, Roy Harrison

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    A TSI Model 3800 aerosol time-of-flight mass spectrometer (ATOFMS) was deployed for single-particle analysis to Athens (Greece) during August 2003. It has revealed particle types not previously reported in urban air, as well as adding appreciably to the knowledge of aerosol in the Athens atmosphere. Sampling was carried out on a minor road in the city centre and the mass spectra of 166,603 particles were recorded, with 128,290 presenting both positive and negative spectra. The ART-2a neural network algorithm was applied and five main classes of particle were characterised: sea salt, dust, carbon, inorganic and K-rich, with sub-classes within each. Dust (with five sub-classes) was the main class, accounting for up to 49.5% of the particles characterised. Oxygenated organic particles feature heavily in the dataset and some are internally mixed with nitrate and sulphate. Most of the carbon-containing particles appeared to be a secondary product of atmospheric chemistry and one specific class (C-SEC_2) peaked every night at 22:00, when temperature and RH values favoured condensation. The secondary particles showed clear internal mixing of organic and inorganic constituents in contrast to their common theoretical treatment as external mixtures. The apparent semi-volatility of one class was striking. Compared with measurements in northern Europe, the abundance of relatively coarse dust particles and of secondary organic particles is notable. The particle classes derived from analysis of the ATOFMS data were compared with published data on the composition of aerosol in Athens. The latter is largely restricted to major water-soluble ions, and the two measurement techniques proved to be highly complementary. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)7614-7631
    Number of pages18
    JournalAtmospheric Environment
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2006


    • ATOFMS
    • Athens
    • dust
    • single-particle analysis
    • secondary aerosol


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