Seasonal analysis of submicron aerosol in Old Delhi using high-resolution aerosol mass spectrometry: chemical characterisation, source apportionment and new marker identification

James M. Cash, Ben Langford, Chiara Di Marco, Neil Mullinger, James Allan, Ernesto Reyes-Villegas, Ruthambara Joshi, Mathew R. Heal, W. Joe F. Acton, C. Nicholas Hewitt, Pawel K. Misztal, Will Drysdale, Tuhin K. Mandal, Shivani, Ranu Gadi, Bhola Ram Gurjar, Eiko Nemitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

We present the first real-time composition of submicron particulate matter (PM1) in Old Delhi using high-resolution aerosol mass spectrometry (HR-AMS). Old Delhi is one of the most polluted locations in the world, and PM1 concentrations reached ∼ 750 µg m−3 during the most polluted period, the post-monsoon period, where PM1 increased by 188 % over the pre-monsoon period. Sulfate contributes the largest inorganic PM1 mass fraction during the pre-monsoon (24 %) and monsoon (24 %) periods, with nitrate contributing most during the post-monsoon period (8 %). The organics dominate the mass fraction (54 %–68 %) throughout the three periods, and, using positive matrix factorisation (PMF) to perform source apportionment analysis of organic mass, two burning-related factors were found to contribute the most (35 %) to the post-monsoon increase. The first PMF factor, semi-volatility biomass burning organic aerosol (SVBBOA), shows a high correlation with Earth observation fire counts in surrounding states, which links its origin to crop residue burning. The second is a solid fuel OA (SFOA) factor with links to local open burning due to its high composition of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and novel AMS-measured marker species for polychlorinated dibenzodioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs). Two traffic factors were resolved: one hydrocarbon-like OA (HOA) factor and another nitrogen-rich HOA (NHOA) factor. The N compounds within NHOA were mainly nitrile species which have not previously been identified within AMS measurements. Their PAH composition suggests that NHOA is linked to diesel and HOA to compressed natural gas and petrol. These factors combined make the largest relative contribution to primary PM1 mass during the pre-monsoon and monsoon periods while contributing the second highest in the post-monsoon period. A cooking OA (COA) factor shows strong links to the secondary factor, semi-volatility oxygenated OA (SVOOA). Correlations with co-located volatile organic compound (VOC) measurements and AMS-measured organic nitrogen oxides (OrgNO) suggest SVOOA is formed from aged COA. It is also found that a significant increase in chloride concentrations (522 %) from pre-monsoon to post-monsoon correlates well with SVBBOA and SFOA, suggesting that crop residue burning and open waste burning are responsible. A reduction in traffic emissions would effectively reduce concentrations across most of the year. In order to reduce the post-monsoon peak, sources such as funeral pyres, solid waste burning and crop residue burning should be considered when developing new air quality policy.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberacp-21-10133-2021
Pages (from-to)10133-10158
Number of pages26
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • PM1
  • sub-micron aerosol
  • aerosol mass spectrometry
  • air pollution
  • Source apportionment
  • chloride aerosol
  • organic aerosol
  • sulphate aerosol
  • solid fuel OA
  • Delhi


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