Enhanced trimethylamine-containing particles during fog events detected by single particle aerosol mass spectrometry in urban Guangzhou, China

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Abstract

Trimethylamine (TMA) plays an important role in atmospheric chemistry, yet its pathway towards aerosol is not clear. We report in this study the measurement of TMA in submicron particles using a single particle aerosol mass spectrometer (SPAMS) in urban Guangzhou, China for the period of 30 April through 22 May, 2010. The number fraction of TMA-containing particles relative to total detected particle number dramatically increased within the occurrence of fogs. It changed from an average of ~7% for clear days to ~35% for the fog events. For particles with size larger than 0.5 μm, the fraction could even account up to ~60%. Averaged relative intensity of TMA was correlated well with relative humidity, indicating the important role of aerosol water content in the gas-to-particle partitioning of TMA. During the fog events, number based size distribution of TMA-containing particles shifted towards larger mode, peaking at droplet mode (0.5-1.2 μm), corresponding to the build-up of aerosol mass, suggesting the significant mass transfer of TMA and other semi-volatile species from gas to aerosol. Results also reveal that most of TMA-containing particles also contained signals from ammonium, nitrate and sulfate. A much larger fraction of TMA-containing particles was found to contain nitrate during the fog events than on clear days. During the fog events, nitrate and sulfate were more strongly associated with TMA compared to ammonia, which was oppositely observed on clear days. These results indicate that gas-to-particle partitioning of TMA in urban Guangzhou occurs preferentially during fog processing. The study could help improve our understanding in fog processing and potential roles of TMA-containing particles in urban Guangzhou. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

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Zhang, G., Bi, X., Chan, L. Y., Li, L., Wang, X., Feng, J., … Zhou, Z. (2012). Enhanced trimethylamine-containing particles during fog events detected by single particle aerosol mass spectrometry in urban Guangzhou, China. Atmospheric Environment, 55, 121–126. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2012.03.038

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