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Assessment of the Liquid Water Content of Summertime Aerosol in the Southeast United States

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Abstract: The concentration of aerosol liquid water mass represents an important parameter for understanding the physical properties of PM2.5 in the atmosphere. Increases in ambient relative humidity can increase aerosol liquid water and thus the composite particle mass and particle volume, thereby increasing the light scattering properties of submicron particles that lead to degradations in visibility. Submicron aerosols have also been implicated in contributing to radiative forcing important in global climatic change. It has been recognized that presence of inorganic salts, in particular ammonium sulfate and other sulfate acids and salts, contributes to liquid water aerosol concentrations. Only very recently has attention turned to assessing the possible contributions of organic compounds to the liquid water concentrations.

A field study was undertaken during the summer of 2000 to assess the impact of the presence of organic compounds on the liquid water concentrations of PM2.5 samples. The selected site, located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, was in a semi-rural environment with expected impacts from both biogenic and anthropogenic emissions. Eight samples, collected on Teflon filters over 48-h periods, were analyzed for their liquid water concentrations by using a beta gauge to measure the change in PM2.5 mass on the filter as a function of relative humidity in a humidity-controlled environmental chamber. The filter samples were also analyzed for mass, elemental and organic carbon, and inorganic ion concentrations. For six of the eight samples, the measured liquid water concentrations exceeded those predicted from the presence of the inorganic constituents. A relationship between the excess liquid water and the measured organic carbon mass was found but standard deviations associated with the measurements were large. Through modeling studies it was determined that about 80% of the liquid water in the PM2.5 could be accounted for by the inorganic ions present, with the remaining 20% associated with organic compounds. The liquid water data were consistent with the presence of aqueous solutions supersaturated with respect to the inorganic ions in the aerosol.

This work has been funded fully, or in part, by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, under Contract Number 68-D5-0049 to ManTech Environmental Technology, Inc. It has been subjected to Agency review and approved for publication.
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Citation:Edney, E. O., R. E. Speer, and T. E. Kleindienst. Assessment of the Liquid Water Content of Summertime Aerosol in the Southeast United States. Presented at American Association for Aerosol Research, Charlotte, NC, October 7-11, 2002.
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Contact: Liz Hope - (919) 541-2785 or hope.elizabeth@epa.gov
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Division: Human Exposure & Atmospheric Sciences Division
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Branch: Atomospheric Chemistry & Physics Branch
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Product Type: Abstrct/Oral
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Presented: 10/07/2002
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Related Entries:
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Bullet Item Science Version of PM Chemistry Model
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Last Updated on Monday, October 22, 2007
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