Submicron aerosol analysis and organic source apportionment in an urban atmosphere in Pearl River Delta of China using high‐resolution aerosol mass spectrometry Academic Article uri icon


  • The Pearl River Delta (PRD) region in South China is one of the most economically developed regions in China while also noted for its severe air pollution, especially in the urban environments. In order to understand in depth the aerosol chemistry and the emission sources in PRD, an Aerodyne high-resolution time-of-flight aerosol mass spectrometer (HR-ToF-AMS) was deployed at an urban site in the Hong Kong-Shenzhen metropolitan area between 25 October and 2 December 2009. Ten minute-resolved measurement data were analyzed, and an average mass concentration of 44.5 ± 34.0 μg m -3 was calculated for the entire campaign. On average, organic matter was the most abundant PM1 component accounting for 39.7% of the total mass, followed by sulfate (24.5%), black carbon (measured by aethalometer, 14.0%), ammonium (10.2%), nitrate (10.0%), and chloride (1.6%). Moreover, organic matter comprised an increasing fraction of the PM1 loading as the PM1 loading increased, denoting its key role in particulate pollution in this region. Calculations of organic elemental composition based on the high-resolution organic mass spectra obtained indicated that C, H, O, and N on average contributed 33.8%, 55.1%, 10.2%, and 0.9%, respectively, to the total atomic numbers of organic aerosol (OA), which corresponded to an OM/OC ratio (the ratio of organic matter mass/organic carbon mass) of 1.57 ± 0.08. Positive matrix factorization analysis was then conducted on the high-resolution organic mass spectral data set. Four OA components were identified, including a hydrocarbon-like (HOA), a biomass burning (BBOA), and two oxygenated (LV-OOA and SV-OOA) components, which on average accounted for 29.5%, 24.1%, 18.8%, and 27.6%, respectively, of the total organic mass. The HOA was found to have contributions from both fossil fuel combustion and cooking emissions, while the BBOA was well correlated with acetonitrile, a known biomass burning marker. The LV-OOA and SV-OOA corresponded to more aged and fresher secondary organic aerosol, respectively. The diurnal variations of the LV-OOA and SV-OOA showed significant increase in concentration in the daytime, denoting their substantial photochemical formation. Back trajectory analysis indicated that the short-range regional transport from the northeast was the key factor leading to severe submicron aerosol pollution in this area. The HR-ToF-AMS measurement results in this campaign are completely compared with a previous paper that reports the HR-ToF-AMS measurement results at a rural site in PRD in the same season, based on which the regional pollution characteristics of submicron particle in PRD were analyzed. Copyright © 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.

author list (cited authors)

  • He, L., Huang, X., Xue, L., Hu, M., Lin, Y., Zheng, J., Zhang, R., & Zhang, Y.

citation count

  • 146

publication date

  • June 2011