21 Mar 2023
 | 21 Mar 2023

Iodine oxoacids and their roles in sub-3 nanometer particle growth in polluted urban environments

Ying Zhang, Duzitian Li, Xu-Cheng He, Wei Nie, Chenjuan Deng, Runlong Cai, Yuliang Liu, Yishuo Guo, Chong Liu, Yiran Li, Liangduo Chen, Yuanyuan Li, Chenjie Hua, Tingyu Liu, Zongcheng Wang, Lei Wang, Tuukka Petäjä, Federico Bianchi, Ximeng Qi, Xuguang Chi, Pauli Paasonen, Yongchun Liu, Chao Yan, Jingkun Jiang, Aijun Ding, and Markku Kulmala

Abstract. New particle formation processes contribute significantly to the number concentration of ultrafine particles (UFP), and have great impacts on human health and global climate. Iodine oxoacids (HIOx, including iodic acid, HIO3 and iodous acid, HIO2) have been observed in pristine regions and proved to dominate NPF events at some sites. However, the knowledge of HIOx in polluted urban areas is rather limited. Here, we conducted a long-term comprehensive observation of gaseous iodine oxoacids and sulfuric acid in Beijing from January 2019 to October 2021 and also in Nanjing from March 2019 to February 2020, and investigated the contribution of HIOx to UFP number concentration in urban environments. HIO3 concentration is highest in summer, up to 2.85×106 cm-3 and 2.78×106 cm-3 in Beijing and Nanjing, respectively, and is lowest in winter, with a more prominent seasonal variation than H2SO4. HIO3 concentration shows a clear diurnal pattern at both sites with a daily maximum at around noontime, similar to the atmospheric temperature, radiation and ozone (O3) levels. HIO2 concentration has the same diurnal and seasonal trend as HIO3 but is overall about one order of magnitude lower than HIO3 concentration. Back trajectory analysis suggests that the sources for inland iodine species could be a mix of marine and terrestrial origins, both having peak iodine emission in warm seasons. While the contribution of HIO2 to particle growth is marginal in Beijing and Nanjing, our results demonstrate that HIO3 enhances the particle survival probability of sub-3 nm particles by about 40 % (median) and occasionally by more than 100 % in NPF events, suggesting HIOx are non-negligible contributor to UFPs in polluted urban areas. As the growth contribution from HIO3 and H2SO4 is similar on a per-molecule basis, we propose that the sum of HIO3 and H2SO4 could be used to estimate sub-3 nm particle growth of inorganic acid origin, in the polluted atmospheres with a significant amount of HIOx.

Ying Zhang et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-311', Anonymous Referee #1, 07 Aug 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-311', Anonymous Referee #2, 29 Sep 2023

Ying Zhang et al.


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Latest update: 09 Dec 2023
Short summary
In this study, a long-term observation of gaseous iodine oxoacids has been carried out in two Chinese mega-cities. We find that iodine oxoacids ubiquitously present in these cities with the highest concentrations (up to 0.1 parts per trillion by volume) in summer. Our analysis shows that the iodine source is likely a mix of terrestrial and marine sources. Iodic acid is further found to contribute to sub-3 nanometer particle growth and particle survival probability.