An evaluation of source apportionment of fine OC and PM2.5 by multiple methods: APHH-Beijing campaigns as a case study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Xuefang Wu
  • Yele Sun
  • Athanasia Vlachou
  • Vaios Moschos
  • Gary Salazar
  • Sonke Szidat
  • Andre S.H. Prevot
  • Pingqing Fu
  • Roy Harrison
  • Zongbo Shi

External organisations

  • China University of Geosciences
  • Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Paul Scherrer Institut
  • University of Bern
  • Tianjin University
  • King Abdulaziz University


This study aims to critically evaluate the source apportionment of fine particles by multiple receptor modelling approaches, including carbon mass balance modelling of filter-based radiocarbon (14C) data, Chemical Mass Balance (CMB) and Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) analysis on filter-based chemical speciation data, and PMF analysis on Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (AMS-PMF) or Aerosol Chemical Speciation Monitor (ACSM-PMF) data. These data were collected as part of the APHH-Beijing (Atmospheric Pollution and Human Health in a Chinese Megacity) field observation campaigns from 10th November to 12th December in winter 2016 and from 22nd May to 24th June in summer 2017. 14C analysis revealed the predominant contribution of fossil fuel combustion to carbonaceous aerosols in winter compared with non-fossil fuel sources, which is supported by the results from other methods. An extended Gelencsér (EG) method incorporating 14C data, as well as the CMB and AMS/ACSM-PMF methods, generated a consistent source apportionment for fossil fuel related primary organic carbon. Coal combustion, traffic and biomass burning POC were comparable for CMB and AMS/ACSM-PMF. There are uncertainties in the EG method when estimating biomass burning and cooking OC. The POC from cooking estimated by different methods was poorly correlated, suggesting a large uncertainty when differentiating this source type. The PM2.5 source apportionment results varied between different methods. Through a comparison and correlation analysis of CMB, PMF and AMS/ACSM-PMF, the CMB method appears to give the most complete and representative source apportionment of Beijing aerosols. Based upon the CMB results, fine aerosols in Beijing were mainly secondary inorganic ion formation, secondary organic aerosol formation, primary coal combustion and from biomass burning emissions.

Bibliographic note

Funding Information: This research was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (Grant No: NE/N007190/1, NE/R005281/1, NE/S006699/1). We thank Bill Bloss, Leigh Crilley, and Louisa Kramer from the University of Birmingham, Siyao Yue, Liangfang Wei, Hong Ren, Qiaorong Xie, Wanyu Zhao, Linjie Li, Ping Li, Shengjie Hou, and Qingqing Wang from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Rachel Dunmore, Ally Lewis, Jacqui Hamilton and James Lee from the University of York, Kebin He and Xiaoting Cheng from Tsinghua University, James Allan and Hugh Coe from the University of Manchester, Yiqun Han and Hanbing Zhang from King’s College London, and Tong Zhu from Peking University for providing logistic and scientic support for the eld campaigns. V. M. acknowledges the A. G. Leventis Foundation for a doctoral student Educational Grant.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-313
Number of pages24
JournalFaraday Discussions
Early online date23 Sep 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

Sustainable Development Goals