Main content area

Comparative study for separation of atmospheric humic-like substance (HULIS) by ENVI-18, HLB, XAD-8 and DEAE sorbents: Elemental composition, FT-IR, 1H NMR and off-line thermochemolysis with tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH)

Fan, Xingjun, Song, Jianzhong, Peng, Ping’an
Chemosphere 2013 v.93 pp. 1710-1719
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, aerosols, ammonia, elemental composition, hydrophobicity, isolation techniques, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, salts, solid phase extraction
Humic-like substances (HULIS) are significant constituents of aerosols, and the isolation and characterization of HULIS by solid-phase extraction methods are dependent on the sorbents used. In this study, we used the following five methods: ENVI-18, HLB-M, HLB-N, XAD-8 and DEAE, to isolate atmospheric HULIS at an urban site. Then we conducted a comparative investigation of the HULIS chemical characteristics by means of elemental analysis, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and off-line thermochemolysis with tetramethylammonium hydroxide. The results indicate that HULIS isolated using different methods show many similarities in chemical composition and structure. Some differences were however also observed between the five isolated HULIS: HULISHLB-M contains a relatively high content of OCH group, compared to HULISENVI-18 and HULISXAD-8; HULISXAD-8 contains a relatively high content of hydrophobic and aromatic components, compared to HULISENVI-18 and HULISHLB-M; HULISDEAE contains the highest content of aromatic functional groups, as inferred by 1H NMR spectra, but a great amount of salts generally present in the HULISDEAE and thereby limited the choices for characterizing the materials (i.e., elemental analysis and TMAH thermochemolysis); HULISHLB-N has relatively high levels of H and N, a high N/C atomic ratio, and includes N-containing functional groups, which suggests that it has been altered by 2% ammonia introduced in the eluents. In summary, we found that ENVI-18, HLB-M, and XAD-8 are preferable methods for isolation and characterization of HULIS in atmospheric aerosols. These results also suggest that caution is required when applying DEAE and HLB-N isolating methods for characterizing atmospheric HULIS.