Apportionment of urban aerosol sources in Cork (Ireland) by synergistic measurement techniques

M. Dall'Osto, S. Hellebust, R.M. Healy, I.P. Connor, I. Kourtchev, J.R. Sodeau, J. Ovadnevaite, D. Ceburnis, C.D. O'Dowd, J.C. Wenger

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15 Citations (Scopus)


The sources of ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) during wintertime at a background urban location in Cork city (Ireland) have been determined. Aerosol chemical analyses were performed by multiple techniques including on-line high resolution aerosol time-of-flight mass spectrometry (Aerodyne HR-ToF-AMS), on-line single particle aerosol time-of-flight mass spectrometry (TSI ATOFMS), on-line elemental carbon-organic carbon analysis (Sunset_EC-OC), and off-line gas chromatography/mass spectrometry and ion chromatography analysis of filter samples collected at 6-h resolution. Positive matrix factorization (PMF) has been carried out to better elucidate aerosol sources not clearly identified when analyzing results from individual aerosol techniques on their own. Two datasets have been considered: on-line measurements averaged over 2-h periods, and both on-line and off-line measurements averaged over 6-h periods. Five aerosol sources were identified by PMF in both datasets, with excellent agreement between the two solutions: (1) regional domestic solid fuel burning – “DSF_Regional,” 24–27%; (2) local urban domestic solid fuel burning – “DSF_Urban,” 22–23%; (3) road vehicle emissions – “Traffic,” 15–20%; (4) secondary aerosols from regional anthropogenic sources – “SA_Regional” 9–13%; and (5) secondary aged/processed aerosols related to urban anthropogenic sources – “SA_Urban,” 21–26%. The results indicate that, despite regulations for restricting the use of smoky fuels, solid fuel burning is the major source (46–50%) of PM2.5 in wintertime in Cork, and also likely other areas of Ireland. Whilst wood combustion is strongly associated with OC and EC, it was found that peat and coal combustion is linked mainly with OC and the aerosol from these latter sources appears to be more volatile than that produced by wood combustion. Ship emissions from the nearby port were found to be mixed with the SA_Regional factor. The PMF analysis allowed us to link the AMS cooking organic aerosol factor (AMS_PMF_COA) to oxidized organic aerosol, chloride and locally produced nitrate, indicating that AMS_PMF_COA cannot be attributed to primary cooking emissions only. Overall, there are clear benefits from factor analysis applied to results obtained from multiple techniques, which allows better association of aerosols with sources and atmospheric processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-208
Number of pages12
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Urban aerosol
  • Source apportionment
  • PMF
  • Cooking aerosol
  • AMS


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