Enhanced secondary organic aerosol formation during dust episodes by photochemical reactions in the winter in Wuhan

Yu Ding , Kai Xu , Yafei Liu , Chenlu Li , Chen Zhang , Xingang Liu , Qijie Li , Min Xiong , Yujun Zhang , Shijie Yin


Received October 29, 2021,Revised , Accepted April 10, 2022, Available online April 19, 2022

Volume 35,2023,Pages 70-82

To investigate the effect of frequently occurring mineral dust on the formation of secondary organic aerosol (SOA), 106 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), trace gas pollutants and chemical components of PM2.5 were measured continuously in January 2021 in Wuhan, Central China. The observation period was divided into two stages that included a haze period and a following dust period, based on the ratio of PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations. The average ratio of secondary organic carbon (SOC) to elemental carbon (EC) was 1.98 during the dust period, which was higher than that during the haze period (0.69). The contribution of SOA to PM2.5 also increased from 2.75% to 8.64%. The analysis of the relationships between the SOA and relative humidity (RH) and the odd oxygen (e.g., OX = O3 + NO2) levels suggested that photochemical reactions played a more important role in the enhancement of SOA production during the dust period than the aqueous-phase reactions. The heterogeneous photochemical production of OH radicals in the presence of metal oxides during the dust period was believed to be enhanced. Meanwhile, the ratios of trans-2-butene to cis-2-butene and m-/p-xylene to ethylbenzene (X/E) dropped significantly, confirming that stronger photochemical reactions occurred and SOA precursors formed efficiently. These results verified the laboratory findings that metal oxides in mineral dust could catalyse the oxidation of VOCs and induce higher SOA production.

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