Five primary sources of organic aerosols in the urban atmosphere of Belgrade (Serbia)

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  • Roberta Zangrando
  • Elena Barbaro
  • Torben Kirchgeorg
  • Marco Vecchiato
  • Elisa Scalabrin
  • Marta Radaelli
  • Dragana Đorđević
  • Carlo Barbante
  • Andrea Gambaro

Biomass burning and primary biological aerosol particles (PBAPs) represent important primary sources of organic compounds in the atmosphere. These particles and compounds are able to affect climate and human health. In the present work, using HPLC-orbitrapMS, we determined the atmospheric concentrations of molecular markers such as anhydrosugars and phenolic compounds that are specific for biomass burning, as well as the concentrations of sugars, alcohol sugars and D- and L-amino acids (D-AAs and L-AAs) for studying PBAPs in Belgrade (Serbia) aerosols collected in September–December 2008. In these samples, high levels of all these biomarkers were observed in October. Relative percentages of vanillic (V), syringic compounds (S) and p-coumaric acid (PA), as well as levoglucosan/mannosan (L/M) ratios, helped us discriminate between open fire events and wood combustion for domestic heating during the winter. L-AAs and D-AAs (1% of the total) were observed in Belgrade aerosols mainly in September–October. During open fire events, mean D-AA/L-AA (D/L) ratio values of aspartic acid, threonine, phenylalanine, alanine were significantly higher than mean D/L values of samples unaffected by open fire. High levels of AAs were observed for open biomass burning events. Thanks to four different statistical approaches, we demonstrated that Belgrade aerosols are affected by five sources: a natural source, a source related to fungi spores and degraded material and three other sources linked to biomass burning: biomass combustion in open fields, the combustion of grass and agricultural waste and the combustion of biomass in stoves and industrial plants. The approach employed in this work, involving the determination of specific organic tracers and statistical analysis, proved useful to discriminate among different types of biomass burning events.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Pages (from-to)1441-1453
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 15.11.2016

    Research areas

  • Aerosol primary sources, Biomass burning, PBAPs, PMF, Urban aerosols
  • Chemistry