19 Sep 2022
19 Sep 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Yields and molecular composition of gas phase and secondary organic aerosol from the photooxidation of the volatile consumer product benzyl alcohol: formation of highly oxygenated and hydroxy nitroaromatic compounds

Mohammed Jaoui1, Kenneth S. Docherty2, Michael Lewandowski1, and Tadeusz Kleindienst1 Mohammed Jaoui et al.
  • 1Center for Environmental Measurement & Modeling, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC, 27711, USA
  • 2Jacobs Technology, Inc., Research Triangle Park, NC, 27709, USA

Abstract. Recently, volatile chemical products (VCPs) have been increasingly recognized as important precursors for secondary organic aerosol (SOA) and ozone in urban areas. However, their atmospheric chemistry, physical transformation, and their impact on climate, environment, and human health remain poorly understood. Here, the yields and chemical composition at the molecular level of gas and particle phase products originating from the photooxidation of one of these VCPs, benzyl alcohol (BnOH), are reported. The SOA was generated in the presence of seed aerosol from nebulized ammonium sulfate solution in a 14.5 m3 smog chamber operated in flow mode. More than 50 organic compounds containing nitrogen and/or up to seven oxygen atoms were identified by mass spectrometry. While a detailed non-targeted analysis has been made, our primary focus has been to examine highly oxygenated and nitro-aromatic compounds. The major components include ring-opening products with high oxygen to carbon ratio (e.g., malic acid, tartaric acids, arabic acid, trihydroxy-oxo-pentanoic acids, and pentaric acid), and ring-retaining products (e.g., benzaldehyde, benzoic acid, catechol, 3-nitrobenzyl alcohol, 4-nitrocatechol, 2-hydroxy-5-nitrobenzyl alcohol, 2-nitrophloroglucinol, 3,4-dihydroxy-5-nitrobenzyl alcohol). The presence of some of these products in the gas and particle phases simultaneously provides evidence of their gas/particle partitioning. These oxygenated oxidation products made dominant contributions to the SOA particle composition in both low and high NOx systems. Yields, organic mass to organic carbon ratio, and proposed reaction schemes for selected compounds are provided. The aerosol yield was 5.2 % for BnOH/H2O2 at SOA concentration of 52.9 µg m-3 and ranged between 1.7–8.1 % for BnOH/NOx at SOA concentration of 40.0–119.5 µg m-3.

Mohammed Jaoui et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2022-651', Anonymous Referee #1, 14 Oct 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Mohammed Jaoui, 13 Dec 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on acp-2022-651', Anonymous Referee #2, 01 Nov 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Mohammed Jaoui, 13 Dec 2022

Mohammed Jaoui et al.

Mohammed Jaoui et al.


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Short summary
VCPs are a class of chemicals widely used in industrial and consumer products (e.g., coatings, adhesives, inks, personal care products) and are an important component of total VOC in urban atmospheres. This study provides SOA yields and detailed chemical analysis of the gas and aerosol phase products of the photooxidation of one of these VCPs, benzyl alcohol. These results will allow better links between characterized sources and their resulting criteria pollutant formation.