Characterization and Heterogeneity of Coarse Particles Across an Urban Area

Publication Information:

Kumar, Pramod, Philip K. Hopke, Suresh Raja, Gary Casuccio, Traci L. Lersch, Roger R. West, “Characterization and Heterogeneity of Coarse Particles Across an Urban Area,” Atmospheric Environment, 46 (2012) 449-459.

Year: 2012

The variation in composition and concentration of coarse particles in Rochester, a medium-sized city in western New York, was studied using UNC passive samplers and computer-controlled scanning electron microscopy (CCSEM). The samplers were deployed in a 5 × 5 grid (2 km × 2 km per grid cell) for 2−3 week periods in two seasons (September 2008 and May 2009) at 25 different sites across Rochester. CCSEM analysis yielded size and elemental composition for individual particles and analyzed more than 800 coarse particles per sample. Based on the composition as reflected in the fluoresced X-ray spectrum, the particles were grouped into classes with similar chemical compositions using an adaptive resonance theory (ART) network. The mass fractions of particles in the identified classes were then used to assess the homogeneity of composition and concentration across the measurement domain. These results illustrate how particle sampling using the UNC passive sampler coupled with CCSEM/ART can be used to determine the concentration and source of the coarse particulate matter at multiple sites. The particle compositions were dominated by elements suggesting that the major particle sources are road dust and biological particles. Considerable heterogeneity in both composition and concentration were observed between adjacent sites as indicated by cofficient of divergence analyses.