Articles | Volume 18, issue 6
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 4349–4359, 2018

Special issue: Regional transport and transformation of air pollution in...

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 4349–4359, 2018

Research article 29 Mar 2018

Research article | 29 Mar 2018

Observations of fine particulate nitrated phenols in four sites in northern China: concentrations, source apportionment, and secondary formation

Liwei Wang1,a, Xinfeng Wang1, Rongrong Gu1, Hao Wang1, Lan Yao1, Liang Wen1, Fanping Zhu2, Weihao Wang3, Likun Xue1, Lingxiao Yang1,2, Keding Lu4, Jianmin Chen1,2,5, Tao Wang3, Yuanghang Zhang4, and Wenxing Wang1 Liwei Wang et al.
  • 1Environment Research Institute, Shandong University, Jinan, Shandong 250100, China
  • 2School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Shandong University, Jinan, Shandong 250100, China
  • 3Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong SAR, China
  • 4State Key Laboratory for Environment Simulation and Pollution Control, College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • 5Shanghai Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Particle Pollution and Prevention, Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Institute of Atmospheric Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China
  • anow at: Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute, Villigen PSI, 5232, Switzerland

Abstract. Filter samples of fine particulate matters were collected at four sites in northern China (urban, rural, and mountain) in summer and winter, and the contents of nine nitrated phenols were quantified in the laboratory with the use of ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry. During the sampling periods, the concentrations of particulate nitrated phenols exhibited distinct temporal and spatial variation. On average, the total concentration of particulate nitrated phenols in urban Jinan in the wintertime reached 48.4 ng m−3, and those in the summertime were 9.8, 5.7, 5.9, and 2.5 ng m−3 in urban Jinan, rural Yucheng and Wangdu, and Mt. Tai, respectively. The elevated concentrations of nitrated phenols in wintertime and in urban areas demonstrate the apparent influences of anthropogenic sources. The positive matrix factorization receptor model was then applied to determine the origins of particulate nitrated phenols in northern China. The five major source factors were traffic, coal combustion, biomass burning, secondary formation, and aged coal combustion plume. Among them, coal combustion played a vital role, especially at the urban site in the wintertime, with a contribution of around 55 %. In the summertime, the observed nitrated phenols were highly influenced by aged coal combustion plumes at all of the sampling sites. Meanwhile, in remote areas, contributions from secondary formation were significant. Further correlation analysis indicates that nitrosalicylic acids were produced mostly from secondary formation that was dominated by NO2 nitration.

Short summary
This study presents concentrations, variation characteristics, sources and secondary formations of nitrated phenols, a major component of brown carbon, in typical seasons at four sites in northern China. The results highlight the strong influences and contributions of anthropogenic activities, in particular coal combustion and the aging processes, to the atmospheric nitrated phenols in this region.
Final-revised paper