, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 361-398

Amino acid nitrogen in atmospheric aerosols: Occurrence, sources and photochemical modification

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Abstract

The presence of amino acids in atmospheric precipitation and aerosols has been noted for many years, yet relatively little is known about these or other nitrogen containing organic compounds in the atmosphere. Marine and continental rainwater analyses indicate that atmospheric aerosols, and subsequently atmospheric precipitation, may contain substantial levels of free and combined amino acids. The most likely source of amino N in the remote marine atmosphere appears to be the injection of proteinaceous material through the action of bursting bubbles at the sea-air interface or the long range transport from terrestrial sources. The capacity of these substrates to undergo photooxidation and photodegradation in the atmosphere to simpler species, such as ammonium ions, carboxylic acids, and for the S containing amino acids, oxidized forms of sulfur, has received little attention from atmospheric chemists. The photochemistry of covalently bound amino groups, particularly as found in peptides and amino acids, is discussed here with the purpose of summarizing what is known of their occurrence and their possible importance to atmospheric chemistry.