Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health

, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 683–692 | Cite as

Highly size-resolved characterization of water-soluble inorganic ions in submicron atmospheric particles

  • Qinghua Zhou
  • Jie Wang
  • Wenwen Yan
  • Kaijie Tang
  • Xiaoyue Sun
  • Liyuan Chen
  • Jia Li
  • Jinyuan ChenEmail author
  • Xiuzhen WeiEmail author


Up to date, few attentions have been given to the special characterization of water-soluble inorganic ions (WSIs) in the submicron atmospheric particles. In this study, to implement a highly size-resolved characterization of WSIs in the submicron atmospheric particles, ten sets of size-segregated submicron atmospheric particles were collected in Hangzhou (China) from November to December 2015, with cut-off diameters of 0.060, 0.108, 0.170, 0.260, 0.400, 0.650, and 1.000 μm. The particulate WSIs, including Cl, NO3, SO42−, Na+, NH4+, K+, and Ca2+ were analyzed by ion chromatography, and their mode distributions and potential sources were assessed. It was found that the particulate WSIs constituted a substantial part (40.4~70.9%) in each fraction of submicron particles, of which the secondary inorganic ions (SO42−, NO3, and NH4+) were the dominant species. The sulfur oxidation rate (SOR) and nitrogen oxidation rate (NOR) were increased when the submicron particles became coarser, indicating the enhanced secondary formation processes of SO42− and NO3 in the coarser submicron particles, thus resulting in the higher fractional contribution of secondary inorganic aerosols in the coarser submicron atmospheric particles. The correlation coefficients between K+ and Cl, NO3, and SO42− were 0.9293 (P = 0.002), 0.9702 (P < 0.001), and 0.9723 (P < 0.001), suggesting their dominant contribution from the biomass burning. Furthermore, it was found that PM0.4–1 (aerodynamic diameter of 0.400–1.000 μm) was a substantial part (66.6%) of submicron atmospheric particles. Compared to PM0.4 (aerodynamic diameter ≤ 0.400 μm), the concentration of WSIs in PM0.4–1 was prominently higher, and the secondary formation processes of SO42− and NO3 in PM0.4–1 were significantly enhanced.


Water-soluble inorganic ions Size-segregated Submicron atmospheric particles Secondary inorganic ions 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

11869_2019_687_MOESM1_ESM.doc (45 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 45 kb)


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Microbial Technology for Industrial Pollution Control of Zhejiang Province, College of EnvironmentZhejiang University of TechnologyHangzhouChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Tea Biology and Resources Utilization, Ministry of Agriculture, Tea Research InstituteChinese Academy of Agricultural SciencesHangzhouChina

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