Measurement of SO2 effects on the 218Po ion mobility spectrum by alpha-track detection.
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A number of investigators have reported the formation of radiolytic ultrafine particles produced by the interaction of ionizing radiation with atmospheric trace gases. Previous studies have suggested that a very high localized concentration of the OH radical produced by the radiolysis of water can react with atmospheric trace gas, like SO2, to produce lower vapor pressure compounds that can then nucleate. To determine trace-gas dependence of the active, positively charged, first decay product of radon, the mobility spectrum of the decay products in the range of 0.06-3.0 cm2 V-1s-1 was measured in a flow-through radon chamber using a specially designed mobility spectrometer. Measurements were taken for different relative humidities and concentrations of SO2 in purified laboratory compressed air. The resultant mobility spectra were compared with radiolytic ultrafine particle activity distribution data. In the case of low humidities, the reduction of available OH concentration and hence neutralization rate led to the increasing intensity of the shoulder around 1.35 cm2 V-1s-1 with increasing SO2, suggesting SO2 clustering around the PoOx+ ion. For high humidity conditions (5 ppm SO2, 30% RH), there was clear droplet formation, H2SO4, clustering around the ion, and also an increase in the background level between the high mobility peak and droplet peak.