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Open Access Inferring the Sources of Fine and Ultrafine Particulate Matter at Downwind Receptor Sites in the Los Angeles Basin Using Multiple Continuous Measurements

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Recent studies that have found increased health effects of atmospheric ultrafine particulate matter (PM) have refocused attention on particle number rather than particle mass concentrations as a relevant measurement of PM pollution. As part of the Southern California Supersite program, ambient particle characteristics were measured over 13 months at three different sites in the eastern portion of the Los Angeles Basin: Riverside, Rubidoux, and Claremont, CA. The sites represent receptor locations that are influenced by local particle sources as well as advection from the more intense particle sources upwind closer to Downtown Los Angeles. An SMPS/APS tandem system was employed to collect continuous particle size distributions, from which particle number and mass concentrations were calculated. An aethalometer provided continuous particulate elemental carbon (EC) concentrations. Results show no meaningful correlation between particle number and mass, indicating that fine particle standards may not be effective in controlling ultrafine concentrations. Diurnal patterns show a morning traffic peak indicated by increases in particle mass, number, and EC. Afternoon periods in the warmer months are characterized by high number counts while mass and EC remain low, suggesting the formation of new particles by photochemistry. Particle mode diameters range from 30 nm up to above 100 nm, a result not seen in most other studies of particle size distributions in other urban or rural areas where mode diameters are generally less than 50 nm. Evidence is presented that the observed ultrafine particle concentrations and size distributions are influenced by long-range advection and photochemical processes as well as vehicular emissions, which have been previously assumed to dominate day-to-day ultrafine particle levels.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Southern California, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Los Angeles, California

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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