Trends in Fine Particle Concentration and Chemical Composition in Southern California

Christos S. Christoforou, Lynn G. Salmon, Michael P. Hannigan, Paul A. Solomon, and Glen R. Cass
Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association, 50 (2000) 43--53


Airborne fine particle mass concentrations in Southern California have declined in recent years. Trends in sulfate and elemental carbon (EC) particle concentrations over the period 1982-1993 are consisitent with this overall improvement in air quality and help to confirm some of the reasons for the changes that are seen. Fine particle sulfate concentrations have declined as a strict sulfur oxides emission control program adopted in 1978 was implemented over time. Fine particle elemental (black) carbon concentrations have declined over a period when newer diesel engines and improved diesel fuels were being introduced into the vehicle fleet. Organic aerosol concentrations have not declined as rapidly as the EC particle concentrations, despite the fact that catalyst-equipped cars having lower particle emission rates were introduced into the vehicle fleet alongside the diesel engine improvements mentioned above. This situation is consistent with the growth in population and vehicle miles traveled in the air basin over time. Fine particle ammonium nitrate in the Los Angeles area atmosphere contributes more than half of the fine aerosol mass concentration on the highest concentration days of the year, emphasizing both the need for accurate aerosol nitrate measurements as well as the likely importance of deliberate control of aerosol nitrate as a part of any serious further fine particle control program for the Los Angeles area.

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