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PM1 composition and source apportionment at two sites in Delhi, India across multiple seasons

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  • Ernesto Reyes-Villegas
  • Upasana Panda
  • Eoghan Darbyshire
  • James M. Cash
  • Rutambhara Joshi
  • Ben Langford
  • Chiara F. Di Marco
  • Will Drysdale
  • Eiko Nemitz
  • Michael Flynn
  • Aristeidis Voliotis
  • Gordon McFiggans
  • Hugh Coe
  • James Lee
  • Mathew R. Heal
  • Sachin S. Gunthe
  • Shivani
  • Ranu Gadi
  • Siddhartha Singh
  • Vijay Soni
  • James Allan
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>5/08/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)11655-11667
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Air pollution in urban environments has been shown to have a negative impact on air quality and human health, particularly in megacities. Over recent decades, Delhi, India, has suffered high atmospheric pollution, with significant particulate matter (PM) concentrations as a result of anthropogenic activities. Organic aerosols (OAs) are composed of thousands of different chemical species and are one of the main constituents of submicron particles. However, quantitative knowledge of OA composition, their sources and their processes in urban environments is still limited. This is important particularly in India, as Delhi is a massive, inhomogeneous conurbation, where we would expect the apportionment and concentrations to vary depending on where in Delhi the measurements/source apportionment is performed, indicating the need for multisite measurements. This study presents the first multisite analysis carried out in India over different seasons, with a focus on identifying OA sources. The measurements were taken during 2018 at two sites in Delhi, India. One site was located at the India Meteorological Department, New Delhi (ND). The other site was located at the Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women, Old Delhi (OD). Non-refractory submicron aerosol (NR-PM1) concentrations (ammonium, nitrate, sulfate, chloride and organic aerosols) of four aerosol mass spectrometers were analysed. Collocated measurements of volatile organic compounds, black carbon, NOx and CO were performed. Positive matrix factorisation (PMF) analysis was performed to separate the organic fraction, identifying a number of conventional factors: hydrocarbon-like OAs (HOAs) related to traffic emissions, biomass burning OAs (BBOAs), cooking OAs (COAs) and secondary OAs (SOAs).

A composition-based estimate of PM1 is defined by combining black carbon (BC) and NR-PM1 (C-PM1= BC + NR-PM1). No significant difference was observed in C-PM1 concentrations between sites, OD (142 ± 117 µg m−3) compared to ND (123 ± 71 µg m3), from post-monsoon measurements. A wider variability was observed between seasons, where pre-monsoon and monsoon showed C-PM1 concentrations lower than 60 µg m−3. A seasonal variation in C-PM1 composition was observed; SO2−4 showed a high contribution over pre-monsoon and monsoon seasons, while NO−3 and Cl− had a higher contribution in winter and post-monsoon. The main primary aerosol source was from traffic, which is consistent with the PMF analysis and Aethalometer model analysis. Thus, in order to reduce PM1 concentrations in Delhi through local emission controls, traffic emission control offers the greatest opportunity. PMF–aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS) mass spectra will help to improve future aerosol source apportionment studies. The information generated in this study increases our understanding of PM1 composition and OA sources in Delhi, India. Furthermore, the scientific findings provide significant information to strengthen legislation that aims to improve air quality in India.