Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2021-601
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2021-601

  03 Aug 2021

03 Aug 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Understanding aerosol composition in an inter-Andean valley impacted by sugarcane intensive agriculture and urban emissions

Lady Mateus-Fontecha1, Angela Vargas-Burbano1, Rodrigo Jimenez1, Nestor Y. Rojas1, German Rueda-Saa2, Dominik van Pinxteren3, Manuela van Pinxteren3, Khanneh Wadinga Fomba3, and Hartmut Herrmann3 Lady Mateus-Fontecha et al.
  • 1Universidad Nacional de Colombia – Bogota, Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Air Quality Research Group, Bogota, DC 111321, Colombia
  • 2Universidad Nacional de Colombia – Palmira, Department of Engineering and Management, Environmental Prospective, Research Group, Palmira, Valle del Cauca 763533, Colombia
  • 3Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS), Atmospheric Chemistry Department (ACD), Permoserstrasse. 15, 04318, Leipzig, Germany

Abstract. Agro-industrial areas are frequently affected by various sources of atmospheric pollutants that negatively impact public health and ecosystems. However, air quality in these areas is infrequently monitored because of their lower population density compared to large cities, especially in developing countries. The Cauca River Valley (CRV) is an agro-industrial region in Southwest Colombia, where a large fraction of the area is devoted to sugarcane and derivatives production. CRV is also affected by road traffic and industrial emissions. This study aims to elucidate the chemical composition of particulate matter fine mode (PM2.5) and to identify the main pollutant sources before source attribution. For this, a sampling campaign was carried out at a representative site of the CRV region, where daily-averaged mass concentrations of PM2.5 and the concentrations of water-soluble ions, trace metals, organic and elemental carbon, and various fractions of organic compounds (carbohydrates, n-alkanes, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – PAHs) were measured. Mean PM2.5 was 14.38 ± 4.35 ug m−3, and the most abundant constituent was organic material (52.99 % ± 17.79 %), followed by ammonium sulfate (16.12 % ± 3.98 %), and elemental carbon (6.95 % ± 2.52 %), which indicates secondary aerosol formation and incomplete combustion. Levoglucosan was present in all samples with a mean concentration of (113.8 ± 147.2 ng m−3) revealing biomass burning as a persistent source. The diagnostic ratios applied to organic compounds revealed the influence of petrogenic and pyrogenic sources. Principal component analysis identified the influence of traffic-generated road dust, secondary aerosol formation, gasoline and diesel combustion vehicle exhaust, vegetative detritus, and resuspended agriculture soil. However, no single component was dominant nor explained the CRV PM2.5 chemical species variance. Many components had equally important roles instead. Likewise, sugarcane pre-harvest burning, a frequent activity in CRV, was not identified as an independent component. This aerosol and trace gas source contributed to various components and was correlated to the formation of secondary aerosols.

Lady Mateus-Fontecha et al.

Status: open (extended)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2021-601', Anonymous Referee #1, 17 Sep 2021 reply

Lady Mateus-Fontecha et al.

Lady Mateus-Fontecha et al.

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Short summary
This study reports the chemical composition of regionally representative PM2.5 in an area densely populated and substantially industrialized, located in the inter-Andean valley with the highest sugarcane yield in the world and where sugarcane is burned and harvested year-round. We found that sugarcane burning did not portrait as a distinguishable sample composition component. Instead, the composition analysis revealed multiple associations among sugarcane burning components and other sources.
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