Long-term characterization of organic and elemental carbon in the PM2.5 fraction: the case of Athens, Greece
Abstract. Organic carbon (OC), elemental carbon (EC), water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC) and main ions were measured in a total of 1510 PM2.5 daily aerosol samples collected from May 2008 to April 2013 in Athens, Greece. OC and EC concentrations were 2.1 ± 1.3 μg m−3 and 0.54 ± 0.39 μg m−3, accounting for 11 ± 3% and 3 ± 1% of PM2.5 mass, respectively, with an average OC/EC ratio of 4.7 ± 3.1. Significant correlation was found between OC and EC during the whole period, indicating emissions by common primary sources on a regional scale. WSOC concentration ranged from 0.03 to 10.6 μg m−3, with an average of 1.5 ± 0.9 μg m−3. By considering the Finokalia (Crete) station as a reference, it was estimated that, during the warm season in Athens, 67 ± 7% of emitted OC and 53 ± 12% of emitted EC is regional, while, during cold months, the regional contribution of OC is only 33 ± 7% and of EC 29 ± 8%. Furthermore, secondary organic carbon (SOC) was calculated for the warm period of the year (April to October). The estimated SOC constituted about 75 ± 6% of PM2.5 organic carbon in Athens, highlighting significant aging processes on a regional scale. In the period 2011–2013 and during wintertime, an increase in OC and EC levels was observed, attributed to an increase in wood burning for domestic heating due to the economic crisis.