Investigating the origin of PM2.5 in Baltimore using highly time-resolved organic molecular markers measured during the Baltimore PM-supersite

Anna R Bernardo-Bricker, Florida International University


The detailed organic composition of atmospheric fine particles with an aerodynamic diameter smaller than or equal to 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) is an integral part of the knowledge needed in order to fully characterize its sources and transformation in the environment. For the study presented here, samples were collected at 3-hour intervals. This high time resolution allows gaining unique insights on the influence of short- and long-range transport phenomena, and dynamic atmospheric processes. A specially designed sequential sampler was deployed at the 2002-2003 Baltimore PM-Supersite to collect PM2.5 samples at a 3-hourly resolution for extended periods of consecutive days, during both summer and winter seasons. Established solvent-extraction and GC-MS techniques were used to extract and analyze the organic compounds in 119 samples from each season. Over 100 individual compounds were quantified in each sample. For primary organics, averaging the diurnal ambient concentrations over the sampled periods revealed ambient patterns that relate to diurnal emission patterns of major source classes. Several short-term releases of pollutants from local sources were detected, and local meteorological data was used to pinpoint possible source regions. Biogenic secondary organic compounds were detected as well, and possible mechanisms of formation were evaluated. The relationships between the observed continuous variations of the concentrations of selected organic markers and both the on-site meteorological measurements conducted parallel to the PM2.5 sampling, and the synoptic patterns of weather and wind conditions were also examined. Several one-to-two days episodes were identified from the sequential variation of the concentration observed for specific marker compounds and markers ratios. The influence of the meteorological events on the concentrations of the organic compounds during selected episodes was discussed. It was observed that during the summer, under conditions of pervasive influence of air masses originated from the west/northwest, some organic species displayed characteristics consistent with the measured PM2.5 being strongly influenced by the aged nature of these long-traveling background parcels. During the winter, intrusions from more regional air masses originating from the south and the southwest were more important.

Subject Area

Atmospheric sciences|Environmental science|Environmental engineering

Recommended Citation

Bernardo-Bricker, Anna R, "Investigating the origin of PM2.5 in Baltimore using highly time-resolved organic molecular markers measured during the Baltimore PM-supersite" (2008). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3343356.