Combustion processes can form fullerenes (C 60). Therefore we investigate the occurrence of C 60 in various atmospheric environments. The detection and quantification is achieved with the highly specific and sensitive method of liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry following solvent extraction of the samples. C 60 was detected in the air particulates of a parking garage and the exhaust soot of a diesel truck. These results would indicate that fullerenes are incidentally produced from combustion processes and become associated with atmospheric particulate matter. However C 60 is susceptible to atmospheric oxidation processes. In particular ozonation tests on solid C 60 confirm the production of fullerene-based compounds such as C 60O. Such oxidation and alteration of the molecular structure of the fullerenes would explain the low ambient concentrations observed respectively the inability to detect C 60 in ambient air in many locations, further away from potential emission sources. These results have significant policy implications including considering incidental sources of C 60 in addition to engineered C 60 added to commercial products, and understanding environmental oxidation processes for C 60 in conjunction with quantifying transformation products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-303
Number of pages13
JournalComprehensive Analytical Chemistry
StatePublished - 2012


  • Air
  • Buckyball
  • Mass spectroscopy
  • Nanomaterial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy


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