Characterization of water-soluble organic matter isolated from atmospheric fine aerosol

Gyula Kiss, Bálint Varga, István Galambos, Ildikó Ganszky

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204 Citations (Scopus)


Atmospheric fine aerosol (dp < 1.5 μm) was collected at a rural site in Hungary from January to September 2000. The total carbon concentration ranged from 5 to 13 μg m-3 and from 3 to 6 μg m-3 in the first three months and the rest of the sampling period, respectively. On average, water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC) accounted for 66% of the total carbon concentration independent of the season. A variable fraction of the water-soluble organic constituents (38-72% of WSOC depending on the sample) was separated from inorganic ions and isolated in pure organic form by using solid phase extraction on a copolymer sorbent. This fraction was experimentally characterized by an organic matter to organic carbon mass ratio of 1.9, and this value did not change with the seasons. Furthermore, the average elemental composition (molar ratio) of C:H:N:O ≈ 24:34:1:14 of the isolated fraction indicated the predominance of oxygenated functional groups, and the low hydrogen to carbon ratio implied the presence of unsaturated or polyconjugated structures. These conclusions were confirmed by UV, fluorescence, and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) studies. On the basis of theoretical considerations, the organic matter to organic carbon mass ratio was estimated to be 2.3 for the nonisolated water-soluble organic fraction, resulting in an overall ratio of 2.1 for the WSOC. In order to extend the scope of this estimation to the total organic carbon, which is usually required in mass closure calculations, the aqueous extraction was followed by sequential extraction with acetone and 0.01 M NaOH solution. As a result, a total organic matter to total organic carbon mass ratio of 1.9-2.0 was estimated, but largely on the basis of experimental data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8339
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - nov. 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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