Secondary organic aerosol formed by condensing anthropogenic vapours over China’s megacities

Wei Nie, Chao Yan, Dan Dan Huang, Zhe Wang, Yuliang Liu, Xiaohui Qiao, Yishuo Guo, Linhui Tian, Penggang Zheng, Zhengning Xu, Yuanyuan Li, Zheng Xu, Ximeng Qi, Peng Sun, Jiaping Wang, Feixue Zheng, Xiaoxiao Li, Rujing Yin, Kaspar R. Dallenbach, Federico BianchiTuukka Petäjä, Yanjun Zhang, Mingyi Wang, Meredith Schervish, Sainan Wang, Liping Qiao, Qian Wang, Min Zhou, Hongli Wang, Chuan Yu, Dawen Yao, Hai Guo, Penglin Ye, Shuncheng Lee, Yong Jie Li, Yongchun Liu, Xuguang Chi, Veli Matti Kerminen, Mikael Ehn, Neil M. Donahue, Tao Wang, Cheng Huang, Markku Kulmala, Douglas Worsnop, Jingkun Jiang, Aijun Ding

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Secondary organic aerosol contributes a significant fraction to aerosol mass and toxicity. Low-volatility organic vapours are critical intermediates connecting the oxidation of volatile organic compounds to secondary organic aerosol formation. However, the direct measurement of intermediate vapours poses a great challenge. Here we present coordinated measurements of oxygenated organic molecules in the three most urbanized regions of China and determine their likely precursors, enabling us to connect secondary organic aerosol formation to various volatile organic compounds. We show that the oxidation of anthropogenic volatile organic compounds dominates oxygenated organic molecule formation, with an approximately 40% contribution from aromatics and a 40% contribution from aliphatic hydrocarbons (predominantly alkanes), a previously under-accounted class of volatile organic compounds. The irreversible condensation of these anthropogenic oxygenated organic molecules increases significantly in highly polluted conditions, accounting for a major fraction of the production of secondary organic aerosol. We find that the distribution of oxygenated organic molecules and their formation pathways are largely the same across the urbanized regions. This suggests that uniform mitigation strategies could be effective in solving air pollution issues across these highly populated city clusters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-261
Number of pages7
JournalNature Geoscience
Volume15
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences

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