Main content area

Characteristics of carbonaceous aerosols: Impact of biomass burning and secondary formation in summertime in a rural area of the North China Plain

Yao, Lan, Yang, Lingxiao, Chen, Jianmin, Wang, Xinfeng, Xue, Likun, Li, Weijun, Sui, Xiao, Wen, Liang, Chi, Jianwei, Zhu, Yanhong, Zhang, Junmei, Xu, Caihong, Zhu, Tong, Wang, Wenxing
The Science of the total environment 2016 v.557-558 pp. 520-530
aerosols, benzene, biomass, burning, carbon, case studies, coatings, diurnal variation, ethylbenzene, nitrogen oxides, organic matter, oxidation, particulates, rural areas, smoke, summer, toluene, volatile organic compounds, xylene, China
To determine the characteristics of carbonaceous aerosols in rural areas of the North China Plain, field measurements were conducted at Yucheng (YC) in the summers of 2013 and 2014. The concentrations of carbonaceous aerosols at YC exhibited clear diurnal variation, with higher concentrations in the early morning and at night and lower concentrations during the afternoon hours. The mass-balance method designed for particulate matter smaller than 2.5μm (PM2.5) was used to calculate the organic matter (OM)/organic carbon (OC) ratio. The value obtained, 2.07±0.05, was suggested as a reference to estimate organics in PM2.5 in rural areas of the North China Plain. Biomass burning was identified to be a significant source of carbonaceous aerosols; approximately half of the samples obtained at YC were affected by biomass burning during summer 2013. Case studies revealed that biomass burning accounted for up to 52.6% of the OC and 51.1% of the elemental carbon in PM2.5 samples. The organic coatings observed on sulphur-rich and potassium-rich particles indicated the formation of secondary organic aerosols (SOA) from the oxidation of precursor volatile organic compounds (VOCs) during the aging of smoke released from biomass burning. Based on the evolution of the VOCs, the contribution of VOCs oxidation to SOA concentration was 3.21 and 1.07μgm−3ppm−1 CO under conditions of low nitrogen oxide (NOx) and high NOx, respectively. Aromatics (e.g. benzene, toluene, xylene and ethylbenzene) made the greatest contribution to SOA concentration (88.4% in low-NOx conditions and 80.6% in high-NOx conditions). The results of the study offer novel insights into the effects of biomass burning on the carbonaceous aerosols and SOA formation in polluted rural areas.