Study of water-soluble atmospheric humic matter in urban and marine environments

Zoltán Krivácsy, Gyula Kiss, Darius Ceburnis, Gerard Jennings, Willy Maenhaut, Imre Salma, David Shooter

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83 Citations (Scopus)


Recently, atmospheric humic matter or humic-like substances (HULIS) have been found in the water-soluble fraction of atmospheric aerosol sampled at different locations. Most of these locations were continental, non-urban sites. Therefore, in this work HULIS was studied in urban and marine environments. The atmospheric concentration varied over a wide range from 0.40 to 5.44 μg m- 3, from the clean marine air (Mace Head, Ireland) to the heavily polluted winter urban atmosphere (Christchurch, New Zealand). In terms of carbon, ratio of HULIS was 19-51% of water-soluble organic carbon, and 10-22% of total carbon. Different spectroscopic techniques were applied for the physico-chemical characterisation of HULIS including relative aromaticity and molecular weight. Specific absorbance was observed to be much less variable than specific fluorescence, and consequently UV-VIS spectroscopy at λ > 330 nm was recommended for rapid, semi-quantitative determination of HULIS in the water extracts of atmospheric aerosol. Application of a dual filter sampling system at one of the sampling sites has revealed a significant positive sampling artefact which calls for further systematic studies on this subject, and also supports the idea of a secondary organic aerosol formation mechanism of HULIS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalAtmospheric Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2008


  • Atmospheric concentration
  • Fluorescence
  • Humic-like substances (HULIS)
  • Molecular weight
  • Sampling artefact
  • Sources
  • UV-VIS absorption
  • Water-solubility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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