Atmospheric Particulate Carbon Observations in Urban and Rural Areas of the United States

  • P. K. Mueller
  • K. K. Fung
  • S. L. Heisler
  • D. Grosjean
  • G. M. Hidy


Observations of airborne particles containing carbon have been attempted by a variety of different methods. These have been aimed at detailed characterization of compounds for research purposes, as well as simple measures for air monitoring. The latter focused on solvent extractables prior to 1970, but more recently have evolved into techniques such as the thermal or catalytic oxidation to carbon dioxide. In this paper, a survey of recent measurements for noncarbonate carbon and elemental carbon are reported using the oxidation technique. Urban data for communities in New England, Houston, Denver and Los Angeles are given. Rural data from nine stations in the greater northeastern United States and the California San Joaquin Valley also are presented for comparison. The observations indicate the presence of noncarbonate carbon at concentrations above lµg/m3 at most locations. The urban and rural sites in California are particularly rich in carbonaceous material. Winter data in Denver taken in 1978 indicate a substantial fraction of carbon in the aerosol is elemental in nature. In urban sites, as much as half of the noncarbonate carbon present can be elemental in character. Carbon is widespread in airborne particles, and is potentially important to public health considerations and visibility impairment. Therefore, its molecular composition should be better characterized and it should be considered for routine monitoring with other major particulate constituents in the United States.


Particulate Carbon Elemental Carbon Carbonaceous Material Total Suspended Particle Secondary Organic Aerosol 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. K. Mueller
    • 1
  • K. K. Fung
    • 1
  • S. L. Heisler
    • 1
  • D. Grosjean
    • 1
  • G. M. Hidy
    • 1
  1. 1.Environmental Research & Technology, Inc.Westlake VillageUSA

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