Evaluation of an automated EA-IRMS method for total carbon analysis of atmospheric aerosol at HEKAL
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Comprehensive atmospheric studies have demonstrated that carbonaceous particles are one of the main components of atmospheric aerosols over Europe. The aim of our study was to establish an automated elemental analyser interfaced to a stable isotope mass spectrometer (EA-IRMS) method at the Hertelendi Laboratory of Environmental Studies (HEKAL), as a suitable method of quantification of total carbon mass in individual PM2.5 aerosol samples. Total carbon (TC) mass and simultaneous stable isotopic ratios were determined for both test standard and genuine aerosol samples. Finally, the results were compared to the ones obtained independently by an alternative sealed tube combustion method developed previously at HEKAL. The TC recovery tests of standard material prepared by the sealed tube method confirmed at least a carbon recovery yield of 92% for a broad range of carbon mass (100–2000 μg). The stable isotopic results confirmed that sealed tube method is reproducible and suitable to be used as a reference to verify our new EA-IRMS method. The EA-IRMS TC measurements of genuine aerosols gave on average 3% higher carbon recovery yield, relative to the uncorrected results of the sealed tube method. The comparison of the stable isotopic results by the two methods for aerosols also showed minimal differences. Consequently, the possibility of simultaneous TC and stable isotopic analyses makes the EA-IRMS method a very attractive alternative for continuous measurement of aerosols, with an accuracy and reliability similar to other commercial devices.
KeywordsPM2.5 Total carbon Elemental analyser IRMS Stable isotopes
This research was supported by the European Union and the State of Hungary, co-financed by the European Social Fund in the framework of TÁMOP 4.2.4.A/2-11-1-2012-0001 ‘National Excellence Program and the project of GINOP-2.3.2.-15-2016-00009 ‘ICER’.
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