PM2.5-bound silicon-containing secondary organic aerosols (Si-SOA) in Beijing ambient air

Jingsha Xu*, Roy M. Harrison, Congbo Song, Siqi Hou, Lianfang Wei, Pingqing Fu, Weijun Li, Zongbo Shi, Li Hong

*Corresponding author for this work

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Volatile methyl siloxanes (VMS) have been widely used in personal care products and industrial applications, and are an important component of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) indoors. They have sufficiently long lifetimes to undergo long-range transport and to form secondary aerosols through atmospheric oxidation. To investigate these silicon-containing secondary organic aerosols (Si-SOA), we collected PM2.5 samples during 8th-21st August 2018 (summer) and 3rd-23rd January 2019 (winter) at an urban site of Beijing. As the oxidation of VMS mainly results in hydrophilic polar semi-volatile and non-volatile oxidation products, the differences between total water-soluble Si and total water-soluble inorganic Si were used to estimate water-soluble organic Si, considered to be secondary organic Si (SO–Si). The average concentrations of SO–Si during the summer and winter campaigns were 4.6 ± 3.7 and 13.2 ± 8.6 ng m−3, accounting for approximately 80.1 ± 10.1% and 80.2 ± 8.7% of the total water-soluble Si, and 1.2 ± 1.2% and 5.0 ± 6.9% of total Si in PM2.5, respectively. The estimated Si-SOA concentrations were 12.7 ± 10.2 ng m−3 and 36.6 ± 23.9 ng m−3 on average in summer and winter, which accounted for 0.06 ± 0.07% and 0.16 ± 0.22% of PM2.5 mass, but increased to 0.26% and 0.92% on certain days. We found that net solar radiation is positively correlated with SO–Si levels in the summer but not in winter, suggesting seasonally different formation mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number132377
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Early online date29 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC, NE/R005281/1; NE/N007190/1) and Royal Society (NAF\R1\191220). The authors gratefully acknowledge the NOAA Air Resources Laboratory (ARL) for the provision of the HYSPLIT transport and dispersion model and/or READY website ( used in this publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • PM
  • Secondary organic aerosol
  • Silicon
  • Volatile methylsiloxanes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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