Urban organic aerosols measured by single particle mass spectrometry in the megacity of London

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

External organisations

  • Department of Environmental Sciences / Center of Excellence in Environmental Studies, King Abdulaziz University, PO Box 80203, Jeddah, 21589, Saudi Arabia


During the month of October 2006, as part of the REPARTEE-I experiment (Regent's Park and Tower Environmental Experiment) an Aerosol Time-Of-Flight Mass Spectrometer (ATOFMS) was deployed at an urban background location in the city of London, UK. Fifteen particle types were classified, some of which were already discussed (Dall'Osto et al., 2009a,b; Harrison et al., 2012). In this manuscript the origins and properties of four unreported particle types postulated to be due to locally generated aerosols, independent of the air mass type advected into London, are examined. One particle type, originating from lubricating oil (referred to as Ca-EC), was associated with morning rush hour traffic emissions. A second particle type, composed of both inorganic and organic species (called Na-EC-OC), was found enhanced in particle number concentration during evening time periods, and is likely to originate from a source operating at this time of day, or more probably from condensation of semi-volatile species. A third class, internally mixed with organic carbon and sulphate (called OC), was found to spike both in the morning and evenings although it could not unambiguously associated with a specific source or atmospheric process. The fourth class (Secondary Organic Aerosols - Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon; SOA-PAH) exhibited maximum frequency during the warmest part of the day, and a number of factors point towards secondary aerosol production from traffic-related volatile aromatic compounds. Single particle mass spectra of this particle type showed an oxidized polycyclic aromatic compound signature. A comparison of ATOFMS particle class data is then made with factors obtained by Positive Matrix Factorization and PAH signatures obtained from Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (AMS) data (Allan et al., 2010). Both the Ca-EC and OC particle types correlate with primary Hydrocarbon-like Organic Aerosol (HOA,R =0.65 and 0.50 respectively), and Na-EC-OC correlates weakly with the AMS secondary Oxygenated Organic Aerosol (OOA), R =0.35 Combining double low line 0.35). Cluster SOA-PAH was found not to correlate with any AMS signal. A detailed analysis was conducted to identify ATOFMS particle type(s) representative of the AMS cooking aerosol factor (COA), but no convincing associations were found. The combined ATOFMS and AMS results of this REPARTEE study do not always provide an entirely coherent interpretation.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4127-4142
Number of pages16
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012