Single-particle analysis of aerosols at Cheju Island, Korea, using low-Z electron probe X-ray microanalysis: A direct proof of nitrate formation from sea salts

Chul Un Ro, Keun Young Oh, Hyekyeong Kim, Yong Pyo Kim, Chong Bum Lee, K. I.Hyun Kim, Chang Hee Kang, János Osán, Johan De Hoog, Anna Worobiec, René Van Grieken

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63 Scopus citations


A recently developed electron probe X-ray microanalysis (EPMA), called low-Z EPMA, employing an ultrathin window energy-dispersive X-ray detector, was applied to characterize aerosol particles collected at two sampling sites, namely, Kosan and 1100 Hill of Cheju Island, Korea, on a summer day in 1999. Since low-Z EPMA can provide quantitative information on the chemical composition of aerosol particles, the collected aerosol particles were classified and analyzed based on their chemical species. Many different particle types were identified, such as marine-originated, carbonaceous, soil-derived, and anthropogenic particles. Marine-originated particles, such as NaNO3-and Na2SO4-containing particles, are very frequently encountered in the two samples. In this study, it was directly proven that the observed nitrate particles were from sea salts. In addition, two types of nitrate particles from sea salts were observed, with and without Mg. The sodium nitrate particles without Mg were believed to be collected as crystalline form, either with the sodium nitrate particles being fractionally recrystallized within evaporating seawater drops or with recrystallized sodium chloride particles having reacted with gaseous nitrogen species in the air to form the crystalline sodium nitrate particles. The other seemed to be collected as seawater drops, where the atmospheric reaction had occurred in the droplets, and thus sodium as well as magnesium nitrates were observed. Carbonaceous particles are the most abundant in the samples at both sites. From this study, it was found that about three-quarters of the carbonaceous particles in the samples were biogenic, which partially explains a previously reported observation of a large concentration of organic carbon particles as compared to elemental carbon. Various soil-derived particles were also observed. In addition to aluminosilicate- and iron oxide-containing particles, which are ubiquitous components in soil-derived particles, CaCo3-, Al2O3- and Cr-containing particles were also frequently encountered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4487-4494
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number22
StatePublished - 15 Nov 2001


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