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Organic functional groups in aerosol particles from burning and non-burning forest emissions at a high-elevation mountain site

by S. Takahama, R. E. Schwartz, L. M. Russell, A. M. MacDonald, S. Sharma, W. R. Leaitch
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics ()

Abstract

Ambient particles collected on teflon filters at the Peak of Whistler Mountain, British Columbia (2182 ma.s.l.) during spring and summer 2009 were measured by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy for organic functional groups (OFG). The project mean and standard deviation of organic aerosol mass concentrations (OM) for all samples was 3.2 +/- 3.3 (mu g m(-3)). Measurements of aerosol mass fragments, size, and number concentrations were used to separate fossil-fuel combustion and burning and non-burning forest sources of the measured organic aerosol. The OM was composed of the same anthropogenic and non-burning forest components observed at Whistler mid-valley in the spring of 2008; during the 2009 campaign, biomass burning aerosol was additionally observed from fire episodes occurring between June and September. On average, organic hydroxyl, alkane, carboxylic acid, ketone, and primary amine groups represented 31%+/- 11 %, 34%+/- 9 %, 23%+/- 6 %, 6%+/- 7 %, and 6%+/- 3% of OM, respectively. Ketones in aerosols were associated with burning and non-burning forest origins, and represented up to 27% of the OM. The organic aerosol fraction resided almost entirely in the submicron fraction without significant diurnal variations. OM/OC mass ratios ranged mostly between 2.0 and 2.2 and O/C atomic ratios between 0.57 and 0.76, indicating that the organic aerosol reaching the site was highly aged and possibly formed through secondary formation processes.

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