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Properties of Particulate Matter
•Physical, Chemical and Optical Properties
•Size Range of Particulate Matter
•Mass Distribution of PM vs. Size: PM10, PM2.5
•Fine and Coarse Particles
•Fine Particles - PM2.5
•Coarse Particle Fraction - PM10-PM2.5
•Chemical Composition of PM vs. Size
•Optical Properties of PM
•Resource Links
Contact: Rudolf Husar, [email protected]
Major Biogeochemical Processes Producing Aerosols
Industrial Aerosols
Smoke from Fires
Windblown Dust
Volcanic Emissions
What is the magnitude of the anthropogenic perturbation of natural processes?
On global scale dust, smoke dominate the aerosol pattern.
Industrial aerosols dominate regional hot-spots
What is Particulate Matter?
The term Particulate Matter or aerosol, refers to liquid or solid particles
suspended in the air. Depending on their origin and visual appearance, aerosols
have acquired different names in the everyday language.
Dust refers to solid airborne material, dispersed into aerosol from grainy
powders such as soil.
Combustion processes produce smoke particles, but the incombustible residues
of coal are called flyash.
In the early days, air pollution had the appearance of both smoke and fog, so
the term smog was created.
In the open atmosphere, the visibility may often be reduced by regional haze,
originating from various natural or anthropogenic sources.
Neither water droplets of fog and clouds, snow, rain, sleet (hydrometors) nor
dust particles larger than 100 um (blowing sand) are considered to be
particulate matter
Physical, Chemical and Optical Properties
• PM is characterized by its physical, chemical and optical properties
• The physical properties include particle size and particle shape. The
particle size refers to particle diameter or ‘equivalent’ diameter for odd
shaped particles. The particle shape of may be liquid droplets, regular
or irregular shaped crystals or aggregates of odd shape.
• Their chemical composition may also vary from dilute water solution
of acids or salts, organic liquids, to earth's crust materials (dust), soot
(unburned carbon) and toxic metals.
• The optical properties determine the visual appearance of dust, smoke
and haze and include light extinction, scattering and absorption . The
optical properties are determined by the physical and chemical
properties of the ambient PM.
• Each PM source type produces particles with specific physical,
chemical and optical signature. Hence, PM may be viewed as several
pollutants since each aerosol type has its own properties, sources and
requires different control control
Mass Distribution of PM vs. Size: PM10, PM2.5
Usually, the PM mass is plotted vs. the log of particle diameter
The mass distribution tends to be bi-modal with the saddle in the 1-3 um size rage
PM10 refers to the fraction of the PM mass less than 10 um in diameter
PM2.5 or fine mass are less than 2.5 um in size.
The difference between PM10 and PM2.5 constitutes the coarse fraction
The fine and coarse particles have different sources, properties and effects. Many of the
known environmental impacts (health, visibility, acid deposition) are attributed to
Fine and Coarse Particles
There is a natural division of atmospheric particulates into Fine and Coarse
fraction based on particle size.
The fine and coarse particles originate from different sources, their formation
mechanisms, transport distance, their properties and effects are also different.
Many of the known environmental impacts on health, acid deposition,
visibility, and corrosion are associated with the fine particles
Fine Particles - PM2.5
• The majority (over 90%) of the PM2.5 mass over the US is of
secondary origin, formed within the atmosphere through gas-particle
conversion of precursor gases such as sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides
and organics. The resulting secondary aerosol products are sulfates,
organics and nitrates.
• Some PM2.5 is emitted as primary emissions from industrial activities
and motor vehicles including soot (unburned carbon), trace metals and
oily residues.
• Fine particles are mostly droplets except for soot which is in the form
of chain aggregates.
• Over the industrialized regions of the US anthropogenic emissions
from fossil fuel combustion contribute most of the PM2.5. In remote
areas biomass burning, windblown dust, and sea salt also contribute.
Coarse Particles - PM10-PM2.5
• Coarse particles are primary in that they are emitted as windblown dust
and sea spray in coastal areas. Anthropogenic coarse particle sources
include flyash from coal combustion and road dust from automobiles
• The chemical composition of the coarse particle fraction is similar to
that of the earth's crust or the sea but sometimes coarse particles also
carry trace metals and nitrates.
• Coarse particles are removed from the atmosphere by settling,
impaction to surfaces and by precipitation. Their atmospheric
residence time is generally less than a day, and their typical transport
distance is below a few hundred km. Some dust storms tend to lift the
dust to several km altitude, which increase the transport distance to
many thousand km.
Chemical Composition of PM vs. Size
The chemical species that make
up the PM occur at different
For example in Los Angeles,
ammonium and sulfate occur in
the fine mode, <2.5 um in
diameter. Carbonaceous soot,
organic compounds and trace
metals tend to be in the fine
particle mode
The sea salt components,
sodium and chloride occur in
the coarse fraction, > 2.5 um.
Wind-blown and fugitive dust
also mainly in the coarse mode.
Nitrates may occur in fine and
coarse modes.
Optical Properties of PM
• Particles effectively scatter and absorb solar radiation.
• The scattering efficiency per aerosol mass is highest at about 0.5 um.
This is why, say, 10 ug of fine particles (0.2<D<1 um) scatter over ten
times more than 10 ug of coarse particles (D>2.5 um)