Environmental science & technology

Secondary organic aerosol from photooxidation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

PMID 20919733


Secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation from the photooxidation of five polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs, naphthalene, 1- and 2-methylnaphthalene, acenaphthylene, and acenaphthene) was investigated in a 9-m(3) chamber in the presence of nitrogen oxides and the absence of seed aerosols. Aerosol size distributions and PAH decay were monitored by a scanning mobility particle sizer and a gas chromatograph with a flame ionization detector. Over a wide range of conditions, the aerosol yields for the investigated PAHs were observed to be in the range of 2-22%. The observed evolution of aerosol and PAH decay indicate that light and oxidant sources influence the time required to form aerosol and the required threshold reacted concentration of the PAHs. The SOA yields also were related to this induction period and the hydroxyl radical concentrations, particularly for smaller aerosol loadings (<∼6 μg m(-3)). Estimation of SOA production from oxidation of PAHs emitted from mobile sources in Houston shows that PAHs could account for more than 10% of the SOA formed from emissions from mobile sources in this region.