Characteristics of particulate-bound n-alkanes indicating sources of PM2.5 in Beijing, China
Abstract. The characteristics of n-alkanes and the contributions of various sources of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the atmosphere in Beijing were investigated. PM2.5 samples were collected at Minzu University of China between November 2020 and October 2021, and n-alkanes in the samples were analyzed by gas chromatography mass spectrometry. A positive matrix factorization analysis model and source indices (the main carbon peaks, carbon preference indices, and plant wax contribution ratios) were used to identify the sources of n-alkanes, determine the contributions of different sources, and explain the differences. The n-alkane concentrations were 4.51–153 ng/m, (mean 32.7 ng/m3), and the particulate-bound n-alkane and PM2.5 concentrations varied in parallel. There were marked seasonal and diurnal differences in the n-alkane concentrations (p<0.01). The n-alkane concentrations in the different seasons decreased in the order winter>spring>summer>fall. The mean concentration of each homolog was higher at night than in the day in all seasons. Particulate-bound n-alkanes were supplied by common anthropogenic and biogenic sources, and fossil fuel combustion was the dominant contributor. The positive matrix factorization model results indicated five sources of n-alkanes in PM2.5, which were coal combustion, diesel vehicle emissions, gasoline vehicle emissions, higher plants, and dust. Vehicle emissions were the main sources of n-alkanes, contributing 57.6 %. The sources of PM2.5 can be indicated by n-alkanes (i.e., using n-alkanes as organic tracers). Air quality in Beijing needs to be improved. Vehicle exhausts strongly affect PM2.5 pollution. Controlling vehicle exhaust emissions is key to controlling n-alkane and PM2.5 pollution in Beijing.
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Jiyuan Yang et al.