Comparison among filter-based, impactor-based and continuous techniques for measuring atmospheric fine sulfate and nitrate

Wei Nie, Tao Wang, Xiaomei Gao, Ravi Kant Pathak, Xinfeng Wang, Rui Gao, Qingzhu Zhang, Lingxiao Yang, Wenxing Wang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Filter-based methods for sampling aerosols are subject to great uncertainty if the gas-particle interactions on filter substrates are not properly handled. Sampling artifacts depend on both meteorological conditions and the chemical mix of the atmosphere. Despite numerous of studies on the subject, very few have evaluated filter-based methods in the Asian environments. This paper reports the results of a comparison of the performances of two filter-based samplers, including a Thermo Anderson Chemical Speciation Monitor (RAAS) and a honeycomb denuder filter-pack system, a Micro Orifice Uniform Deposit Impactor (MOUDI) and a real-time ambient ion monitor (AIM, URG9000B) in measuring atmospheric concentrations of PM2.5 sulfate and nitrate. Field studies were conducted at an urban site in Jinan, Shandong province, during the winter of 2007 and at a rural site near Beijing in the summer of 2008. The AIM was first compared with the honeycomb denuder filter-pack system which was considered to have minimal sampling artifacts. After some modifications made to it, the AIM showed good performance for both sulfate and nitrate measurement at the two sites and was then used to evaluate other instruments. For the un-denuded RAAS, the extent of sampling artifacts for nitrate on quartz filters was negligible, while that on Teflon filters was also minimal at high nitrate concentrations (>10 μgm-3); however, loss through evaporation was significant (∼75%) at low nitrate concentrations under hot summer conditions. The MOUDI using aluminum substrates suffered a significant loss of nitrate (50-70%) under summer conditions due to evaporation. Considering that the aluminum substrates are still being widely used to obtain size-resolved aerosol compositions because of their low cost and accurate mass weighed, caution should be taken about the potential significant under determination of semi-volatile components such as ammonium nitrate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4396-4403
Number of pages8
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number35
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2010


  • AIM
  • Aluminum substrate
  • Artifacts
  • Comparison
  • Denuded filter-pack system
  • Evaporation loss
  • Particulate matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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