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Measurement of ambient aerosols in northern Mexico City by single particle mass spectrometry

by R. C. Moffet, B. de Foy, L. T. Molina, M. J. Molina, A. Prather
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions ()

Abstract

Continuous ambient measurements with aerosol time-of-flight mass spectrometry (ATOFMS) were carried out in an industrial/residential section in the northern part of Mexico City as part of the Mexico City Metropolitan Area - 2006 campaign (MCMA-2006) between 7-27 March, 2006. Biomass and organic carbon (OC) particle types were found to dominate the accumulation mode both day and night. The concentrations of both organic carbon and biomass particles were roughly equal early in the morning, but biomass became the largest contributor to the accumulation mode mass from the late morning until early evening. The diurnal pattern can be attributed to aging and/or a change in meteorology. Fresh elemental carbon (EC) particles were observed during rush hour. The majority of the EC particles were mixed with nitrate, sulfate, organic carbon and potassium. Submicron particles from industrial sources in the northeast were composed of an internal mixture of Pb, Zn, EC and Cl and peaked early in the morning. A unique nitrogen-containing organic (NOC) particle type was observed, and is hypothesized to be from industrial emissions based on the temporal profile and back trajectory analysis. This study provides unique insights into the real-time changes in single particle mixing state as a function of size and time for aerosols in Mexico City. These new findings indicate that biomass burning and industrial operations make significant contributions to particles in Mexico City. These sources have received relatively little attention in previous intensive field campaigns.

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