Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2021-930
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2021-930

  15 Nov 2021

15 Nov 2021

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

Cellulose in atmospheric particulate matter

Adam Matthew Brighty1, Véronique Jacob1, Gaëlle Uzu1, Lucille Borlaza1, Sebastien Conil2, Christoph Hueglin3, Stuart Grange3, Olivier Favez4,5, Cécile Trébuchon6, and Jean-Luc Jaffrezo1 Adam Matthew Brighty et al.
  • 1University Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, IRD, INP-G, IGE (UMR 5001), 38000 Grenoble, France
  • 2ANDRA, DRD/GES Observatoire Pérenne de l’Environnement, 55290 Bure, France
  • 3Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Überlandstrasse 129, 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland
  • 4Institut national de l’environnement industriel et des risques (INERIS), Parc Technologique Alata BP2, 60550 Verneuil-en-Halatte, France
  • 5Laboratoire Central de Surveillance de la Qualité de l’Air (LCSQA), 60550 Verneuil-en-Halatte, France
  • 6Atmo AURA, F-38400 Grenoble, France

Abstract. The spatiotemporal variations of free cellulose concentrations in atmospheric particles, as a proxy for plant debris, were investigated using a novel HPLC-PAD method. Filter samples were taken from nine sites of varying characteristics across France and Switzerland, with sampling covering all seasons. Concentrations of cellulose, as well as carbonaceous aerosol and other source-specific chemical tracers (e.g. Elemental Carbon (EC), levoglucosan, polyols, trace metals, and glucose) were quantified. Annual mean free cellulose concentrations within PM10 ranged from 29 ± 38 ng m−3 at Bern (urban site) to 284 ± 225 ng m−3 at Payerne (rural site). Concentrations were considerably higher during episodes, with spikes exceeding 1150 and 2200 ng m−3 at Payerne and ANDRA-OPE (rural site), respectively. A clear seasonality, with highest cellulose concentrations during summer and autumn, was observed at all rural and some urban sites. However, some urban locations exhibited a weakened seasonality. Contributions of cellulose-carbon to total organic carbon are moderate on average (0.7–5.9 %), but much greater during ‘episodes’, reaching close to 20 % at Payerne. Cellulose concentrations correlated poorly between sites, even a ranges of about 10 km, indicating the localised nature of the sources of atmospheric plant debris. With regards to these sources, correlations between cellulose and typical biogenic chemical tracers (polyols and glucose) were moderate to strong (Rs 0.28−0.78, p < 0.0001) across the nine sites. Seasonality was strongest at sites with stronger biogenic correlations, suggesting the main source of cellulose arises from biogenic origins. A second input to ambient plant debris concentrations was suggested via resuspension of plant matter at several urban sites, due to moderate cellulose correlations with mineral dust tracers, Ca2+ and Ti metal (Rs 0.28−0.45, p < 0.007). No correlation was obtained with the biomass burning tracer (levoglucosan), an indication that this is not a source of atmospheric cellulose. Finally, an investigation into the interannual variability of atmospheric cellulose across the Grenoble metropole area was completed. It was shown that concentrations and sources of ambient cellulose can vary considerably between years. All together, these results deeply improve our knowledge on the phenomenology of plant debris within ambient air.

Adam Matthew Brighty et al.

Status: open (until 27 Dec 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Adam Matthew Brighty et al.

Adam Matthew Brighty et al.

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Short summary
With a new analytical method and long term sampling strategy, we have been able to elucidate much more information about atmospheric plant debris, a poorly understood class of particulate matter. We found weaker seasonal patterns at urban locations compared to rural locations, and significant inter annual variability in concentrations between previous years and 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. This suggests a possible man-made influence on plant debris concentration and source strength.
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