Using Carbohydrates as Molecular Markers to Determine the Contribution of Agricultural Soil to Ambient Fine and Course PM

EPA Grant Number: R832164
Title: Using Carbohydrates as Molecular Markers to Determine the Contribution of Agricultural Soil to Ambient Fine and Course PM
Investigators: Fraser, Matthew P.
Institution: Rice University
Current Institution: Arizona State University - Main Campus
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: December 1, 2004 through November 30, 2007 (Extended to November 30, 2010)
Project Amount: $441,299
RFA: Source Apportionment of Particulate Matter (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Particulate Matter , Air Quality and Air Toxics , Air


The overall goal of the proposed project is to fully develop, employ and verify a technique to quantify the contribution of agricultural soils entrained in the atmosphere to ambient fine and coarse particulate matter (PM). The proposed research will test the hypothesis that the carbohydrate species present in agricultural soils are chemically distinct from organic components in native soils as a result of soil improvements designed to raise the organic content and productivity of agricultural soil. By comparison of the concentrations of marker species in agricultural soils to unimproved soils, it will be possible to separate agricultural emissions from other fugitive dust sources (such as windblown dusts, unpaved road dusts or construction dusts).


The proposed method will rely on the quantification of carbohydrates (monosaccharides) in agricultural soils to develop molecular markers specific to entrained agricultural soils. By quantifying these monosaccharides in other crustal material and in ambient PM, this project will focus on separating the contribution of agricultural sources of PM from other fugitive dusts sources. The research will expand the molecular marker technique that has been widely used to apportion ambient PM, and study the contribution of agricultural sources to PM levels in different regions of the United States.

Expected Results:

This research will provide a technique to determine the impact of entrained agricultural soil on ambient fine and coarse PM levels. The application of this technique to three locations across the country will provide an estimate of the impact of this important source of ambient PM and provide a new technique to enhance the understanding of sources of fine and coarse PM, and thus the impact of PM on human health. The refinement of the source attribution technique will allow other regions of the country to perform similar calculations to aide in the development of effective air quality improvement strategies.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 21 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 4 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

ambient air, measurement methods, environmental assessment, EPA Regions 6, 8, 9, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, particulate matter, Environmental Chemistry, Environmental Monitoring, atmospheric particulate matter, chemical characteristics, airborne particulate matter, agricultural soils, molecular markers, PM, fine particulate formation

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2005 Progress Report
  • 2006 Progress Report
  • 2007 Progress Report
  • 2008 Progress Report
  • 2009
  • Final Report