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Open Access Daily, Seasonal, and Spatial Trends in PM2.5 Mass and Composition in Southeast Texas

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Daily, seasonal, and spatial trends in fine particulate matter concentrations, compositions, and size distributions were examined using data collected through the regulatory fine particulate matter monitoring network in Southeast Texas and during the Gulf Coast Aerosol Research and Characterization Study (GC-ARCH or Houston Supersite). PM2.5 mass concentrations and compositions are generally spatially homogeneous throughout Southeast Texas when averaged over annual or seasonal time periods. There is relatively little seasonality to mean total PM2.5 mass and mean PM2.5 composition throughout the region, although slightly higher concentrations of total mass tend to occur in the spring and late fall. High FRM PM2.5 mass (> 20 μ g/m3) occurs both when there is high spatial variability among sites and low spatial variability among sites. This suggests that both local and regional emission sources contribute to PM2.5 in Southeast Texas. Sulfate ion (32%), organic carbon (30%), and ammonium ion (9%) are the largest components on average of PM2.5 by mass. Mean diurnal patterns for PM2.5 mass concentrations throughout the region show a consistent morning peak and a weaker and slightly less consistent peak in the late afternoon to early evening. High hourly averaged PM2.5 mass concentrations (> 40 μ g/m3) tend to be associated with daily average PM2.5 above the annual NAAQS of 15 μ g/m3. These high hourly PM2.5 concentrations also tend to occur on days with high diurnal variation, indicative of elevated, short-lived PM2.5 events. In contrast to mass concentrations, particle size distributions are not spatially homogeneous throughout Southeast Texas. Industrial sites have higher concentrations of freshly emitted, primary particles than more residential sites. Because the freshly emitted particles generally have diameters of 0.1 μ m or less, these primary emissions do not have as large an impact on PM2.5 mass or bulk composition as they have on the number density of fine particles.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Center for Energy and Environmental Resources, University of Texas, Austin, Texas 2: Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 3: Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rice University, Houston, Texas

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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