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Biomass-burning emissions could significantly enhance the atmospheric oxidizing capacity in continental air pollution

Bo Zhu, Xiao-Feng Huang, Shi-Yong Xia, Li-Liang Lin, Yong Cheng, Ling-Yan He
Environmental pollution 2021 v.285 pp. 117523
air pollution, air pollution control, biomass, biomass burning, ozone, photochemistry, volatile organic compounds, China
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are important precursors of photochemical pollution. However, a substantial fraction of VOCs, namely, oxygenated VOCs (OVOCs), have not been sufficiently characterized to evaluate their sources in air pollution in China. In this study, a total of 119 VOCs, including 60 OVOCs in particular, were monitored to provide a more comprehensive picture based on different online measurement techniques, proton-transfer-reaction time-of-flight mass spectrometry (PTR-ToF-MS) and online gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), at a receptor site in southeastern China during a photochemically active period. Positive matrix factorization (PMF) and photochemical age-based parameterization were combined to identify and quantify different sources of major VOCs during daytime hours, with the advantage of including VOC decay processes. The results revealed the unexpected role of biomass burning (21%) in terms of ozone (O₃) formation potential (OFP) when including the contributions of OVOCs and large contributions (30–32%) of biomass burning to aldehydes, as more OVOCs were measured in this study. We argue that biomass burning could significantly enhance the continental atmospheric oxidizing capacity, in addition to the well-recognized contributions of primary pollutants, which should be seriously considered in photochemical models and air pollution control strategies.