Chemical and Morphological Characterization of Atmospheric Aerosols

A special issue of Atmosphere (ISSN 2073-4433). This special issue belongs to the section "Aerosols".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (5 October 2023) | Viewed by 5705

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Department of Chemistry Biology and Biotechnology, University of Perugia, 06123 Perugia, Italy
Interests: geochemistry; mineralogy; individual particle analysis; particulate matter; dust sources; aerosol science and technology; air quality
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Aerosols are a major part of atmospheric air. They are complex mixtures originating from a variety of natural and anthropogenic processes in different contexts. The morphology and chemical composition, as well as the chemical–physical state of surfaces, say a lot about the “history” and surface reactivity of aerosol particles, thus allowing to reconstruct their origin as well as to predict their effects on the environment and human health—hence the need for combined chemical and morphological/morphostructural studies in the detailed characterization of aerosols.

The goal of this Special Issue is to collect scientific contributions on the characterization of aerosols sharing a dual chemical and morphological approach in the analysis of the constituent particles. All types of aerosols from outdoor (e.g., rural, urban, remote) and indoor (e.g., domestic, occupational) environments, along with their mutual relationships, can be considered, and both micro- and nanoparticles can be treated. Analytical techniques can also be very diverse, ranging from the most popular (e.g., scanning and transmission electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, Raman microspectroscopy, X-ray microscopy with near edge X-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry with laser ablation or time-of-flight) to the latest and most cutting-edge ones.

Dr. Beatrice Moroni
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • anthropogenic and natural aerosols
  • secondary aerosols
  • structure and texture
  • mineralogy and geochemistry
  • surface analysis
  • image analysis
  • urban, remote, indoor environments

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

17 pages, 4417 KiB  
Article
Investigation of Icelandic Dust Presence in the Aerosols Collected at Hornsund (Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic) in Spring 2019
by Beatrice Moroni, Stefano Crocchianti, Adam Nawrot, Pavla Dagsson Waldhauserova and David Cappelletti
Atmosphere 2024, 15(3), 322; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos15030322 - 04 Mar 2024
Viewed by 736
Abstract
An integrated morphological and chemical analysis of Arctic aerosols was undertaken for Icelandic dust and Svalbard aerosols to be compared by scanning electron microscopy coupled with EDS microanalysis (SEM–EDS) via imaging and chemical analysis techniques. Results of the characterization of the particles from [...] Read more.
An integrated morphological and chemical analysis of Arctic aerosols was undertaken for Icelandic dust and Svalbard aerosols to be compared by scanning electron microscopy coupled with EDS microanalysis (SEM–EDS) via imaging and chemical analysis techniques. Results of the characterization of the particles from both surface sediments and suspended dust from desert areas in Iceland confirmed that volcanic glass is an excellent marker of Icelandic dust origin. Classification diagrams of particle chemical composition clearly distinguished the volcanic glass particles from the local surface sediments at Hornsund, Svalbard. In the same diagrams, a few particles were found in the aerosols from Hornsund which were morphologically and chemically similar to the Icelandic volcanic glass particles. Such properties, in principle, cannot be considered exclusive to volcanic glass. However, since Iceland is the largest and the most active source of long-range transported dust in the northern European high latitudes, and air mass trajectories reaching Hornsund did, actually, pass Iceland before the aerosol collection in the period under consideration, these particles likely originated in Iceland. On the other hand, the comparison with local and Icelandic sediments revealed the presence in the aerosols from Hornsund of particle types that cannot be attributed to either local or Icelandic dust. This observation highlights the possibility of extending and validating the application of the proposed geochemical criterion to different dust sources across the Arctic and the sub-Arctic, provided a consistent geochemical databank of representative dust sources from these areas is arranged. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chemical and Morphological Characterization of Atmospheric Aerosols)
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16 pages, 5829 KiB  
Article
Identification of Airborne Particle Types and Sources at a California School Using Electron Microscopy
by Jeff Wagner, Rosemary Castorina, Kazukiyo Kumagai, McKenna Thompson, Rebecca Sugrue, Elizabeth M. Noth, Asa Bradman and Susan Hurley
Atmosphere 2023, 14(11), 1702; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos14111702 - 20 Nov 2023
Viewed by 893
Abstract
We conducted a pilot study to investigate air quality indoors in two classrooms and outdoors on the school grounds in a California community with historically high PM2.5 (fine particulate matter, diameter < 2.5 μm). We used computer-controlled scanning electron microscopy of passive [...] Read more.
We conducted a pilot study to investigate air quality indoors in two classrooms and outdoors on the school grounds in a California community with historically high PM2.5 (fine particulate matter, diameter < 2.5 μm). We used computer-controlled scanning electron microscopy of passive samples to identify major PM types, which were used to help interpret continuous PM2.5 and black carbon sensor data. The five major PM types were sodium salt particles with sulfur, calcium, or chlorine; aluminosilicate dusts; carbonaceous combustion agglomerates; biogenic particles; and metal-rich particles. Based on morphological evidence of water droplets, the salt particles are hypothesized to be secondary aerosols formed via the reaction of sodium chloride fog droplets with sulfur from regional sources. The carbonaceous agglomerates had unusual morphologies consistent with low-temperature combustion and smoke from open-burning activities observed nearby. The passive PM sampler and continuous sensor results indicated lower concentrations in the classroom equipped with an air cleaner. Passive samples collected in one classroom exhibited enhanced PM10–2.5 crustal particles and PM2.5 metal particles, suggesting a potential local PM source in that room. Future study designs that enable longer passive sampling times would reduce detection limits and sample contamination concerns. The determination of major airborne particle types in a given environment makes this technique a useful and unique community exposure assessment tool, even in these limited-duration (48 h) deployments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chemical and Morphological Characterization of Atmospheric Aerosols)
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23 pages, 4781 KiB  
Article
Aerosol Types and Their Climatology over the Dust Belt Region
by Ahmad E. Samman and Mohsin J. Butt
Atmosphere 2023, 14(11), 1610; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos14111610 - 27 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1109
Abstract
Aerosols, both natural and anthropogenic, are an important but complex component of the Earth’s climate system. Their net impact on climate is about equal in magnitude to that of greenhouse gases but can vary significantly by region and type. Understanding and quantifying these [...] Read more.
Aerosols, both natural and anthropogenic, are an important but complex component of the Earth’s climate system. Their net impact on climate is about equal in magnitude to that of greenhouse gases but can vary significantly by region and type. Understanding and quantifying these aerosol effects is critical for accurate climate modeling and for developing strategies to mitigate climate change. In this paper, we utilize AERONET (Aerosol Robotic NETwork) data from 10 stations situated in the dust belt region to characterize aerosol properties essential for climate change assessment. Aerosol optical depth (AOD) data at 500 nm and Ångström exponent (α) data at the pair of wavelengths of 440 and 870 nm (α440-870) in the study region are analyzed to discriminate among different types of aerosols. The annual and monthly variabilities in AODs are analyzed to see the aerosols trend in the study region. In addition, the AOD and α440-870 data are utilized in order to determine different aerosol types during the period of study. Furthermore, the correlation coefficient between AODs and various meteorological parameters (temperature, wind speed, wind direction, relative humidity, and visibility) is analyzed. The results of the study indicate that Tamanrasset (2.49%), KAUST (1.29%), Solar Village (1.67%), and Dalanzadgad (0.64%) indicate an increasing trend, while Cairo (−0.38%), Masdar (−2.31%), Dushanbe (−1.18%), and Lahore (−0.10%) indicate a decreasing trend in AODs during the study period. Similarly, the results of characterizing aerosol types show that the highest percentage of desert dust aerosols (68%), mixed aerosols (86%), and biomass burning aerosols (15%) are found over Tamanrasset, Lahore, and Dalanzadgad AERONET stations. The study revealed a strong correlation between AODs and visibility, a moderate correlation with temperature, and a low correlation with other meteorological parameters (wind speed, wind direction, and relative humidity) in the study region. The results of the study are very encouraging and enhance our confidence in using historical AERONET data to improve our understanding of atmospheric aerosols’ characteristics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chemical and Morphological Characterization of Atmospheric Aerosols)
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16 pages, 5439 KiB  
Article
Assessment of Carbonaceous Aerosol Properties across an Urban Environment during the Cold Season
by Julija Pauraite, Vadimas Dudoitis and Steigvilė Byčenkienė
Atmosphere 2023, 14(7), 1054; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos14071054 - 21 Jun 2023
Viewed by 806
Abstract
For air quality management it is becoming increasingly important to be able to assess the quantity and properties of biomass-burning-related aerosol. Due to different chemical compositions and morphologies, black carbon (BC) and brown carbon (BrC) demonstrate diverse optical properties as well as an [...] Read more.
For air quality management it is becoming increasingly important to be able to assess the quantity and properties of biomass-burning-related aerosol. Due to different chemical compositions and morphologies, black carbon (BC) and brown carbon (BrC) demonstrate diverse optical properties as well as an impact on air quality. In this study, we analyzed the chemical composition and light-absorbing properties of carbonaceous aerosol at an urban background station during the residential heating season. In addition, BC and BrC levels were assessed in six different areas in the city characterized by different predominant domestic heating systems. Positive matrix factorization (PMF) and BrC attribution analysis revealed that BrC mainly consisted of biomass-burning-related organic aerosol (BBOA) (up to 95%). The mass absorption cross-section at 370 nm for BBOA factors varied between 1.41 m2g−1 and 2.63 m2g−1. The study of six different areas in the city showed that the input of BrC to the total light absorption coefficient within the city varied between 33% and 70%. In addition, the worst air quality was present in areas with numerous old wooden houses with outdated heating systems where significantly increased BC and BrC levels were observed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chemical and Morphological Characterization of Atmospheric Aerosols)
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12 pages, 1448 KiB  
Article
Fractal Dimensions of Biomass Burning Aerosols from TEM Images Using the Box-Grid and Nested Squares Methods
by Timothy Honablew, Marc N. Fiddler, Rudra P. Pokhrel and Solomon Bililign
Atmosphere 2023, 14(2), 221; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos14020221 - 20 Jan 2023
Viewed by 1569
Abstract
The fractal dimension is a key parameter in quantifying the morphology of aerosol aggregates, which is necessary to understand their radiative impact. Here we used Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) images to determine 2D fractal dimensions using the nested square and box-grid method and [...] Read more.
The fractal dimension is a key parameter in quantifying the morphology of aerosol aggregates, which is necessary to understand their radiative impact. Here we used Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) images to determine 2D fractal dimensions using the nested square and box-grid method and used two different empirical equations to obtain the 3D fractal dimensions. The values ranged from 1.70 ± 0.05 for pine to 1.82 ± 0.07 for Eucalyptus, with both methods giving nearly identical results using one of the empirical equations and the other overestimated the 3D values significantly when compared to other values in the literature. The values we obtained are comparable to the fractal dimensions of fresh aerosols in the literature and were dependent on fuel type and combustion condition. Although these methods accurately calculated the fractal dimension, they have shortcomings if the images are not of the highest quality. While there are many ways of determining the fractal dimension of linear features, we conclude that the application of every method requires careful consideration of a range of methodological concerns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chemical and Morphological Characterization of Atmospheric Aerosols)
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