Characteristics and source apportionment of water-soluble organic nitrogen (WSON) in PM2.5 in Hong Kong: With focus on amines, urea, and nitroaromatic compounds

Chin Wai Leung, Xuemei Wang, Di Hu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

Water-soluble organic nitrogen (WSON) is ubiquitous in fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and poses health and environmental risks. However, there is limited knowledge regarding its comprehensive speciation and source-specific contributions. Here, we conducted chemical characterization and source apportionment of WSON in 65 PM2.5 samples collected in Hong Kong during a 1-yr period. Using various mass-spectrometry-based techniques, we quantified 22 nitrogen-containing organic compounds (NOCs), including 17 nitroaromatics (NACs), four amines, and urea. The most abundant amine and NACs were dimethylamine and 4-nitrocatechol, respectively. Two secondary (i.e., secondary formation and secondary nitrate) and five primary sources (i.e., sea salt, fugitive dust, marine vessels, vehicle exhaust, and biomass burning) of WSON and these three categories of NOCs were identified. Throughout the year, secondary sources dominated WSON formation (69.0%), while primary emissions had significant contributions to NACs (77.1%), amines (75.9%), and urea (83.7%). Fugitive dust was the leading source of amines and urea, while biomass burning was the main source of NACs. Our multi-linear regression analysis revealed the significant role of sulfate, NO3, nitrate, liquid water content, and particle pH on WSON formation, highlighting the importance of nighttime NO3 processing and heterogeneous and aqueous-phase formation of NOCs in the Hong Kong atmosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Article number133899
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Volume469
Early online date25 Feb 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2024

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Analytical Chemistry

User-Defined Keywords

  • Amines
  • Nitroaromatic compounds
  • PM2.5
  • Urea
  • Water-soluble organic nitrogen (WSON)

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Characteristics and source apportionment of water-soluble organic nitrogen (WSON) in PM2.5 in Hong Kong: With focus on amines, urea, and nitroaromatic compounds'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this