Ubiquity of organic nitrates from nighttime chemistry in the European submicron aerosol

by Kiendler-Scharr, A; Mensah, AA; Friese, E; Topping, D; Nemitz, E; Prevot, ASH; Aijala, M; Allan, J; Canonaco, F; Canagaratna, M; Carbone, S; Crippa, M; Dall Osto, M; Day, DA; De Carlo, P; Di Marco, CF; Elber, H; Eriksson, A; Freney, E; Hao, L; Herrmann, H; Hildebrandt, L; Hillamo, R; Jimenez, JL; Laaksonen, A; McFiggans, G; Mohr, C; O'Dowd, C; Otjes, R; Ovadnevaite, J; Pandis, SN; Poulain, L; Schlag, P; Sellegri, K; Swietlicki, E; Tiitta, P; Vermeulen, A; Wahner, A; Worsnop, D; Wu, HC

Geophysical Research Letters, JULY 2016, Volume 43, Issue 14, Pages 7734-7744, DOI: 10.1002/2016GL069239

In the atmosphere nighttime removal of volatile organic compounds is initiated to a large extent by reaction with the nitrate radical (NO3) forming organic nitrates which partition between gas and particulate phase. Here we show based on particle phase measurements performed at a suburban site in the Netherlands that organic nitrates contribute substantially to particulate nitrate and organic mass. Comparisons with a chemistry transport model indicate that most of the measured particulate organic nitrates are formed by NO3 oxidation. Using aerosol composition data from three intensive observation periods at numerous measurement sites across Europe, we conclude that organic nitrates are a considerable fraction of fine particulate matter (PM1) at the continental scale. Organic nitrates represent 34% to 44% of measured submicron aerosol nitrate and are found at all urban and rural sites, implying a substantial potential of PM reduction by NOx emission control.

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