An Aerosol Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer (ATOFMS) was used to investigate the size and chemical composition of fine concentrated ambient particles (CAPs) in the size range 0.2–2.6 μm produced by a Versatile Aerosol Concentration Enrichment System (VACES) contained within the Mobile Ambient Particle Concentrator Exposure Laboratory (MAPCEL). The data were collected during a study of human exposure to CAPs, in Edinburgh (UK), in February-March 2004. The air flow prior to, and post, concentration in the VACES was sampled in turn into the ATOFMS, which provides simultaneous size and positive and negative mass spectral data on individual fine particles.
The particle size distribution was unaltered by the concentrator over the size range 0.2–2.6 μm, with an average enrichment factor during this study of ~5 (after dilution of the final air stream). The mass spectra from single particles were objectively grouped into 20 clusters using the multivariate K-means algorithm and then further grouped manually, according to similarity in composition and time sequence, into 8 main clusters. The particle ensemble was dominated by pure and reacted sea salt and other coarse inorganic dusts (as a consequence of the prevailing maritime-source climatology during the study), with relatively minor contributions from carbonaceous and secondary material. Very minor variations in particle composition were noted pre- and post-particle concentration, but overall there was no evidence of any significant change in particle composition.
These results confirm, via single particle analysis, the preservation of the size distribution and chemical composition of fine ambient PM in the size range 0.2–2.6 μm after passage through the VACES concentration instrumentation.