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Published August 1999 | public
Journal Article

Particulate organic compounds emitted from motor vehicle exhaust and in the urban atmosphere


The emission rate of particle-phase petroleum biomarkers in vehicular exhaust compared to the concentrations of these biomarkers in ambient air is used to determine the particulate organic compound concentration due to primary particle emissions from motor vehicles in the southern California atmosphere. A material balance on the organic particulate matter emitted from motor vehicle traffic in a Los Angeles highway tunnel first is constructed to show the proportion which is solvent-extractable and which will elute from a GC column, the ratio of resolved to unresolved compound mass, the portion of the resolved material that can be identified as single organic compounds, and the contribution of different classes of organic compounds to the overall identified fraction. It is shown that the outdoor ambient concentrations of the petroleum biomarkers track primary emissions measured in the highway tunnel, confirming that direct emissions of these compounds from vehicles govern the observed ambient petroleum biomarker concentrations. Using organic chemical tracer techniques, the portion of fine organic particulate matter in the Los Angeles atmosphere which is attributable to direct particle emissions from vehicle exhaust is calculated to vary from 7.5 to 18.3% at different sites throughout the air basin during a summertime severe photochemical smog episode. A similar level of variation in the contribution of primary motor vehicle exhaust to fine particulate organic matter concentrations during different times of day is seen. While peak atmospheric concentrations of fine particulate organic carbon are observed during the 1200–1600 PDT afternoon sampling period, only 6.3% of that material is apportioned to the directly emitted particles from vehicle exhaust. During the morning traffic peak between 0600–1000 PDT, 19.1% of the fine particulate organic material is traced to primary emissions from motor vehicles.

Additional Information

© 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. Received 25 September 1997; accepted 2 July 1998. Available online 25 May 1999. This work was sponsored by the Electric Power Research Institute under agreement RP3189-03 and by the Caltech Center for Air Quality Analysis.

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