Annual cycle of size-resolved organic aerosol characterization in an urbanized desert environment

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4 Scopus citations


Studies of size-resolved organic speciation of aerosols are still relatively rare and are generally only conducted over short durations. However, size-resolved organic data can both suggest possible sources of the aerosols and identify the human exposure to the chemicals since different aerosol sizes have different lung capture efficiencies. The objective of this study was to conduct size-resolved organic aerosol speciation for a calendar year in Phoenix, Arizona to determine the seasonal variations in both chemical concentrations and size profiles. The results showed large seasonal differences in combustion pollutants where the highest concentrations were observed in winter. Summertime aerosols have a greater proportion of biological compounds (e.g. sugars and fatty acids) and the biological compounds represent the largest fraction of the organic compounds detected. These results suggest that standard organic carbon (OC) measurements might be heavily influenced by primary biological compounds particularly if the samples are PM10 and TSP samples. Several large dust storms did not significantly alter the organic aerosol profile since Phoenix resides in a dusty desert environment, so the soil and plant tracer of trehalose was almost always present. The aerosol size profiles showed that PAHs were generally most abundant in the smallest aerosol size fractions, which are most likely to be captured by the lung, while the biological compounds were almost exclusively found in the coarse size fraction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-233
Number of pages8
JournalAtmospheric Environment
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Alkane
  • Coronene
  • Levoglucosan
  • PAH
  • Particulates
  • Phoenix
  • Trehalose

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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