Chemical characterization of fine aerosols in respect to water-soluble ions at the eastern Middle Adriatic coast

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Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations at the Middle Adriatic coastal site of Croatia were affected by different air-mass inflows and/or local sources and meteorological conditions, and peaked in summer. More polluted continental air-mass inflows mostly affected the area in the winter period, while southern marine pathways had higher impact in spring and summer. Chemical characterization of the water-soluble inorganic and organic ionic constituents is discussed with respect to seasonal trends, possible sources, and air-mass inputs. The largest contributors to the PM2.5 mass were sea salts modified by the presence of secondary sulfate-rich aerosols indicated also by principal component analysis. SO42− was the prevailing anion, while the anthropogenic SO42− (anth-nssSO42−) dominantly constituted the major non-sea-salt SO42− (nssSO42−) fraction. Being influenced by the marine origin, its biogenic fraction (bio-nssSO42−) increased particularly in the spring. During the investigated period, aerosols were generally acidic. High Cl deficit was observed at Middle Adriatic location for which the acid displacement is primarily responsible. With nssSO42− being dominant in Cl depletion, sulfur-containing species from anthropogenic pollution emissions may have profound impact on atmospheric composition through altering chlorine chemistry in this region. However, when accounting for the neutralization of H2SO4 by NH3, the potential of HNO3 and organic acids to considerably influence Cl depletion is shown to increase. Intensive open-fire events substantially increased the PM2.5 concentrations and changed the water-soluble ion composition and aerosol acidity in summer of 2015. To our knowledge, this work presents the first time-resolved data evaluating the seasonal composition of water-soluble ions and their possible sources in PM2.5 at the Middle Adriatic area. This study contributes towards a better understanding of atmospheric composition in the coastal Adriatic area and serves as a basis for the comparison with future studies related to the air quality at the coastal Adriatic and/or Mediterranean regions.

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The authors also acknowledge Jadranka Škevin Sović, Ana Šutić and Ivona Igrec from Croatian Meteorological and Hydrological Service for gravimetric measurements.

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The authors acknowledge the financial support from the projects “The Sulphur and Carbon Dynamics in the Sea and Fresh-Water Environment” (IP-11-2013-1205 SPHERE), Slovenian Research Agency (Contract No. P1-0034), STSM COST Action European Network on New Sensing Technologies for Air-Pollution Control and Environmental Sustainability (EuNetAir), and Croatian-Slovenian bilateral project “Estimating the role of marine biogenic organosulfur compounds in the formation and properties of atmospheric organic aerosols.”

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Correspondence to Sanja Frka.

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Cvitešić Kušan, A., Kroflič, A., Grgić, I. et al. Chemical characterization of fine aerosols in respect to water-soluble ions at the eastern Middle Adriatic coast. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2020).

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  • PM2.5
  • Water-soluble ions
  • Sea salt
  • Secondary sulfate
  • Aerosol acidity
  • Cl depletion
  • Adriatic Sea