Estimation of the average molecular weight of humic-like substances isolated from fine atmospheric aerosol

Gyula Kiss, Etelka Tombácz, Bálint Varga, Tomas Alsberg, Linn Persson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

129 Citations (Scopus)


Rural fine aerosol collected in Hungary was analysed with different techniques to estimate the average molecular weight (AMW) of humic-like substances (HULIS). First, ultrafiltration was applied to the total water-soluble organic fraction. Virtually all the water-soluble organic matter passed through the ultrafiltration membrane having a 500Da nominal molecular weight (MW) cut-off. Then a significant portion (more than half) of the water-soluble organic matter was isolated in pure form and further analysed by liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. These analyses confirmed that the isolated organic matter was mostly composed of HULIS, which had been suggested on the basis of elemental analysis and different spectroscopic studies earlier. Furthermore, mass spectrometry indicated that the AMW of these substances could be expected in the 200-300Da range. As detailed in the paper, this estimate may be negatively biased to some extent as a consequence of unwanted processes in the mass spectrometer. In order to reduce uncertainties in the MW estimates another independent technique - vapour pressure osmometry - was also applied and resulted in number AMW estimates in the range of 215-345Da.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3783-3794
Number of pages12
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number27
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2003


  • Mass spectrometry
  • Organic aerosol
  • Ultrafiltration
  • Vapour pressure osmometry
  • Water-soluble organic compounds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Estimation of the average molecular weight of humic-like substances isolated from fine atmospheric aerosol'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this