Molecular composition of boreal forest aerosol from Hyytiälä, Finland, using ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry

I. Kourtchev, S. Fuller, J. Aalto, T.M. Ruuskanen, M.W. McLeod, W. Maenhaut, R. Jones, M. Kulmala, M. Kalberer

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65 Citations (Scopus)


Organic compounds are important constituents of fine particulate matter (PM) in the troposphere. In this study, we applied direct infusion nanoelectrospray (nanoESI) ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry (UHR-MS) and liquid chromatography LC/ESI-UHR-MS for the analysis of the organic fraction of PM1 aerosol samples collected over a two week period at a boreal forest site (Hyytiälä), southern Finland. Elemental formulas (460–730 in total) were identified with nanoESI-UHR-MS in the negative ionization mode and attributed to organic compounds with a molecular weight below 400. Kendrick Mass Defect and Van Krevelen approaches were used to identify compound classes and mass distributions of the detected species. The molecular composition of the aerosols strongly varied between samples with different air mass histories. An increased number of nitrogen, sulfur, and highly oxygenated organic compounds was observed during the days associated with continental air masses. However, the samples with Atlantic air mass history were marked by a presence of homologous series of unsaturated and saturated C12–C20 fatty acids suggesting their marine origin. To our knowledge, we show for the first time that the highly detailed chemical composition obtained from UHR-MS analyses can be clearly linked to meteorological parameters and trace gases concentrations that are relevant to atmospheric oxidation processes. The additional LC/ESI-UHR-MS analysis revealed 29 species, which were mainly attributed to oxidation products of biogenic volatile compounds BVOCs (i.e., α,β-pinene, Δ3-carene, limonene, and isoprene) supporting the results from the direct infusion analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4069–4079
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


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