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Methods, fluxes and sources of gas phase alkyl nitrates in the coastal air

Dirtu, AC and Buczyńska, AJ and Godoi, AFL and Favoreto, R and Bencs, L and Potgieter-Vermaak, SS and Godoi, RHM and Van Grieken, R and Van Vaeck, L (2014) Methods, fluxes and sources of gas phase alkyl nitrates in the coastal air. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 186. ISSN 0167-6369

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Abstract

The daily and seasonal atmospheric concentrations, deposition fluxes and emission sources of a few C3-C9 gaseous alkyl nitrates (ANs) at the Belgian coast (De Haan) on the Southern North Sea were determined. An adapted sampler design for low- and high-volume air-sampling, optimized sample extraction and clean-up, as well as identification and quantification of ANs in air samples by means of gas chromatography mass spectrometry, are reported. The total concentrations of ANs ranged from 0.03 to 85 pptv and consisted primarily of the nitro-butane and nitro-pentane isomers. Air mass backward trajectories were calculated by the Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory (HYSPLIT) model to determine the influence of main air masses on AN levels in the air. The shorter chain ANs have been the most abundant in the Atlantic/Channel/UK air masses, while longer chain ANs prevailed in continental air. The overall mean N fluxes of the ANs were slightly higher for summer than those for winter-spring, although their contributions to the total nitrogen flux were low. High correlations between AN and HNO2 levels were observed during winter/spring. During summer, the shorter chain ANs correlated well with precipitation. Source apportionment by means of principal component analysis indicated that most of the gas phase ANs could be attributed to traffic/combustion, secondary photochemical formation and biomass burning, although marine sources may also have been present and a contributing factor. © 2014 Springer International Publishing Switzerland.

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