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Open Access Contribution of Selected Dicarboxylic and -Oxocarboxylic Acids in Ambient Aerosol to the m/z 44 Signal of an Aerodyne Aerosol Mass Spectrometer

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The Aerodyne aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS) employs flash vaporization (600°C) followed by 70-eV electron impact ionization (EI) to detect organic and inorganic aerosols. The signal at mass-to-charge ratio (m/z) 44 (mainly CO2+) is considered the most reliable marker of oxygenated organic aerosol. This study is the first to evaluate the contribution of selected low molecular weight dicarboxylic acids (diacids) and -oxocarboxylic acids (-oxoacids) to the particle-phase m/z 44 signal of the AMS mass spectrum. Ambient measurements were conducted at a surface site in Tokyo (35°39'N, 139°40'E) during August 3-8, 2003. Diacids and -oxoacids were measured using a filter sampling followed by extraction, derivation, and gas chromatograph-flame ionization detector (GC-FID) analysis. The mass concentrations of diacids and -oxoacids show tight correlation with the m/z 44 signal (r2= 0.85-0.94) during the measurement period. Laboratory experiments were also performed to determine the fragment patterns of selected diacids (C2-C6 diacids and phthalic acids) and -oxoacid (glyoxylic acid) in ambient aerosols. Here, we report for the first time that the selected organic acids could account for 14 ± 5% of the observed m/z 44 signal on average during the measurement period. Oxalic acid (C2) is the largest contributor, accounting for 10 ± 4% of the observed m/z 44 signal. These results would be useful for interpreting the m/z 44 signals obtained from ambient measurements in various locations.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan 2: Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan

Publication date: April 1, 2007

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