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Surfactants in the sea surface microlayer, subsurface water and fine marine aerosols in different background coastal areas

Abstract

This study aims to determine the concentrations of surfactants in the surface microlayer (SML), subsurface water (SSW) and fine mode aerosol (diameter size < 1.5 μm) at different coastal stations in Peninsular Malaysia. The concentrations of anionic and cationic surfactants were determined through colorimetric methods as methylene blue active substances (MBAS) and disulphine blue active substances (DBAS), respectively. Water-soluble ions, for the determination of fine mode aerosol sources, were determined using ion chromatography (IC) for anions (SO42−, NO3, Cl and F) and cations (Na+, K+, Ca2+ and Mg2+). Principal component analysis (PCA), combined with multiple linear regression (MLR), was used to identify the possible sources of surfactants in fine aerosol. The results showed the concentrations of surfactants as MBAS and DBAS in the SML ranged between 0.23 ± 0.03 and 0.35 ± 0.01 μmol L−1 and between 0.21 ± 0.02 and 0.29 ± 0.01 μmol L−1, respectively. The enrichment factors (Efs) ratios between MBAS and DBAS in the SML and SSW ranged between 1.04 ± 0.01 and 1.32 ± 0.04, respectively. The station that is located near to tourism and industrial activities recorded the highest concentrations of surfactants in SML and SSW. The concentrations of surfactants in fine aerosol ranged between 62.29 and 106.57 pmol m−3. The three possible sources of fine aerosol during the northeast monsoon were aged sea spray/biomass burning (which accounted for 69% of the atmospheric aerosol), nitrate/mineral dust (23%) and sulphate/fresh sea salt (8%). During the southwest monsoon, the three main sources of atmospheric aerosol were biomass burning (71%), secondary inorganic aerosol (23%) and sea spray (6%). This study suggests anthropogenic sources are main contributors to the concentrations of surfactants in SML, SSW and fine aerosols.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation of Malaysia (MOSTI) for the E-Science Fund 04-01-02-SF1259 research grant. We thank Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia for University Research Grant (AP-2015-010). We also thank Scientific Committee for Oceanic Research (SCOR) for Working Group 141 Sea-Surface Microlayers Research Grant. Special thanks to Dr. Rose Norman for the assistance with the proofreading of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Mohd Talib Latif.

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Shaharom, S., Latif, M.T., Khan, M.F. et al. Surfactants in the sea surface microlayer, subsurface water and fine marine aerosols in different background coastal areas. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 27074–27089 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-018-2745-0

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Keywords

  • Surfactant
  • Sea surface microlayer
  • Fine aerosols
  • Anionic composition
  • PCA-MLR