Wintertime hygroscopicity and volatility of ambient urban aerosol particles

Joonas Enroth, Jyri Mikkilä, Z. Németh, Markku Kulmala, I. Salma

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Hygroscopic and volatile properties of atmospheric aerosol particles with dry diameters of (20), 50, 75, 110 and 145gnm were determined in situ by using a volatility-hygroscopicity tandem differential mobility analyser (VH-TDMA) system with a relative humidity of 90g% and denuding temperature of 270g°C in central Budapest during 2 months in winter 2014-2015. The probability density function of the hygroscopic growth factor (HGF) showed a distinct bimodal distribution. One of the modes was characterised by an overall mean HGF of approximately 1.07 (this corresponds to a hygroscopicity parameter of 0.033) independently of the particle size and was assigned to nearly hydrophobic (NH) particles. Its mean particle number fraction was large, and it decreased monotonically from 69 to 41g% with particle diameter. The other mode showed a mean HGF increasing slightly from 1.31 to 1.38 (values from 0.186 to 0.196) with particle diameter, and it was attributed to less hygroscopic (LH) particles. The mode with more hygroscopic particles was not identified. The probability density function of the volatility GF (VGF) also exhibited a distinct bimodal distribution with an overall mean VGF of approximately 0.96 independently of the particle size, and with another mean VGF increasing from 0.49 to 0.55 with particle diameter. The two modes were associated with less volatile (LV) and volatile (V) particles. The mean particle number fraction for the LV mode decreased from 34 to 21g% with particle diameter. The bimodal distributions indicated that the urban atmospheric aerosol contained an external mixture of particles with a diverse chemical composition. Particles corresponding to the NH and LV modes were assigned mainly to freshly emitted combustion particles, more specifically to vehicle emissions consisting of large mass fractions of soot likely coated with or containing some water-insoluble organic compounds such as non-hygroscopic hydrocarbon-like organics. The hygroscopic particles were ordinarily volatile. They could be composed of moderately transformed aged combustion particles consisting of partly oxygenated organics, inorganic salts and soot. The larger particles contained internally mixed non-volatile chemical species as a refractory residual in 20-25g% of the aerosol material (by volume).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4533-4548
Number of pages16
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 4 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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