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Other research product . 2020

The impact of biomass burning and aqueous-phase processing on air quality: a multi-year source apportionment study in the Po Valley, Italy

Paglione, Marco; Gilardoni, Stefania; Rinaldi, Matteo; Decesari, Stefano; Zanca, Nicola; Sandrini, Silvia; Giulianelli, Lara; +14 Authors
Open Access
Published: 03 Feb 2020
The Po Valley (Italy) is a well-known air quality hotspot characterized by particulate matter (PM) levels well above the limit set by the European Air Quality Directive and by the World Health Organization, especially during the colder season. In the framework of Emilia-Romagna regional project “Supersito”, the southern Po Valley submicron aerosol chemical composition was characterized by means of high-resolution aerosol mass spectroscopy (HR-AMS) with the specific aim of organic aerosol (OA) characterization and source apportionment. Eight intensive observation periods (IOPs) were carried out over 4 years (from 2011 to 2014) at two different sites (Bologna, BO, urban background, and San Pietro Capofiume, SPC, rural background), to characterize the spatial variability and seasonality of the OA sources, with a special focus on the cold season. On the multi-year basis of the study, the AMS observations show that OA accounts for averages of 45±8 % (ranging from 33 % to 58 %) and 46±7 % (ranging from 36 % to 50 %) of the total non-refractory submicron particle mass (PM1-NR) at the urban and rural sites, respectively. Primary organic aerosol (POA) comprises biomass burning (23±13 % of OA) and fossil fuel (12±7 %) contributions with a marked seasonality in concentration. As expected, the biomass burning contribution to POA is more significant at the rural site (urban / rural concentration ratio of 0.67), but it is also an important source of POA at the urban site during the cold season, with contributions ranging from 14 % to 38 % of the total OA mass. Secondary organic aerosol (SOA) contributes to OA mass to a much larger extent than POA at both sites throughout the year (69±16 % and 83±16 % at the urban and rural sites, respectively), with important implications for public health. Within the secondary fraction of OA, the measurements highlight the importance of biomass burning aging products during the cold season, even at the urban background site. This biomass burning SOA fraction represents 14 %–44 % of the total OA mass in the cold season, indicating that in this region a major contribution of combustion sources to PM mass is mediated by environmental conditions and atmospheric reactivity. Among the environmental factors controlling the formation of SOA in the Po Valley, the availability of liquid water in the aerosol was shown to play a key role in the cold season. We estimate that the organic fraction originating from aqueous reactions of biomass burning products (“bb-aqSOA”) represents 21 % (14 %–28 %) and 25 % (14 %–35 %) of the total OA mass and 44 % (32 %–56 %) and 61 % (21 %–100 %) of the SOA mass at the urban and rural sites, respectively.
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Funded by
Impact of Biogenic versus Anthropogenic emissions on Clouds and Climate: towards a Holistic UnderStanding
  • Funder: European Commission (EC)
  • Project Code: 603445
  • Funding stream: FP7 | SP1 | ENV
Pan-European Gas-AeroSol-climate interaction Study
  • Funder: European Commission (EC)
  • Project Code: 265148
  • Funding stream: FP7 | SP1 | ENV
Related to Research communities
SDSN - Greece Sustainable Development Projects : Pan-European Gas-AeroSol-climate interaction Study