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Published April 2003 | public
Journal Article

Sampling methods used for the collection of particle-phase organic and elemental carbon during ACE-Asia


The semi-volatile nature of carbonaceous aerosols complicates their collection, and for this reason special air sampling configurations must be utilized. ACE-Asia provided a unique opportunity to compare different sampling techniques for collecting carbonaceous aerosols. In this paper detailed comparisons between filter-based carbonaceous aerosol sampling methods are made. The majority of organic carbon (OC) present on a backup quartz fiber filter (QFF) in an undenuded-filter sampler resulted from the adsorption of native gaseous OC rather than OC evaporated from collected particles. The level of OC on a backup QFF placed behind a QFF was lower than the level present on a backup QFF placed behind a Teflon membrane filter (TMF) indicating that gas/filter equilibrium may not be achieved in some QFF front and backup filter pairs. Gas adsorption artifacts can result in a 20–100% overestimation of the ambient particle-phase OC concentration. The gas collection efficiency of XAD-coated and carbon-impregnated filter-lined denuders were not always 100%, but, nonetheless, such denuders minimize gas adsorption artifacts. The median fraction of particle-phase OC that is estimated to evaporate from particles collected by denuder-filter samplers ranged from 0 to 0.2; this value depends on the sampler configuration, chemical composition of the OC, and sampling conditions. After properly correcting for sampling artifacts, the measured OC concentration may differ by 10% between undenuded- and denuder-filter samplers. Uncorrected, such differences can be as large as a factor two, illustrating the importance of sampling configurations in which gas adsorption or evaporation artifacts are reduced or can be corrected.

Additional Information

The Caltech group was supported by Office of Naval Research Grant N00014-96-0119 and National Science Foundation Grant ATM-0001934. The PMEL measurements were funded by the Aerosol Project of the NOAA Climate and Global Change Program.

Additional details

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October 16, 2023