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Emissions of intermediate-volatility and semi-volatile organic compounds from domestic fuels used in Delhi, India

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Gareth Stewart
  • Beth S. Nelson
  • Adam Robert Vaughan
  • Naomi J. Farren
  • James R. Hopkins
  • Martyn W. Ward
  • Stefan J. Swift
  • Rahul Arya
  • Arnab Mondal
  • Ritu Jangirh
  • Sakshi Ahlawat
  • Lokesh Yadav
  • Sudhir K. Sharma
  • Siti S. M. Yunus
  • Eiko Nemitz
  • Ranu Gadi
  • Lokesh K. Sahu
  • Nidhi Tripathi
  • Andrew R. Rickard
  • James D. Lee
  • Tuhin K. Mandal
  • Jacqueline F. Hamilton
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>18/02/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number4
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)2407-2426
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Biomass burning emits significant quantities of intermediate-volatility and semi-volatile volatile organic compounds (I/SVOCs) in a complex mixture, probably containing many thousands of chemical species. These components are significantly more toxic and have poorly understood chemistry compared to volatile organic compounds routinely analysed in ambient air, however quantification of I/SVOCs presents a difficult analytical challenge.

The gases and particles emitted during the test combustion of a range of domestic solid fuels collected from across New Delhi were sampled and analysed. Organic aerosol was collected onto Teflon (PTFE) filters and residual low-volatility gases were adsorbed to the surface of solid-phase extraction (SPE) disks. A new method relying on accelerated solvent extraction (ASE) coupled to comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography with time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC×GC-ToF-MS) was developed. This highly sensitive and powerful analytical technique enabled over 3000 peaks from I/SVOC species with unique mass spectra to be detected. 15–100 % of gas-phase emissions and 7–100 % of particle-phase emissions were characterised. The method was analysed for suitability to make quantitative measurements of I/SVOCs using SPE disks. Analysis of SPE disks indicated phenolic and furanic compounds were important to gas-phase I/SVOC emissions and levoglucosan to the aerosol phase. Gas- and particle-phase emission factors for 21 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were derived, including 16 compounds listed by the US EPA as priority pollutants. Gas-phase emissions were dominated by smaller PAHs. New emission factors were measured (mg kg−1) for PAHs from combustion of cow dung cake (615), municipal solid waste (1022), crop residue (747), sawdust (1236), fuel wood (247), charcoal (151) and liquified petroleum gas (56).

The results of this study indicate that cow dung cake and municipal solid waste burning are likely to be significant PAH sources and further study is required to quantify their impact, alongside emissions from fuel wood burning.