Chemistry of Organic Sulfates and Nitrates in the Urban Atmosphere

  • Rafal SzmigielskiEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Series C: Environmental Security book series (NAPSC)


The paper overviews the current state of knowledge regarding the origin, formation mechanisms, properties and atmospheric implications of organic sulfates (organosulfates, OS) and organic nitrates (organonitrates, ON). Based on field measurements and smog chamber experiments, these esters have been proved to be relevant components of ambient atmospheric aerosols. Despite the fact that chemical knowledge on esters of sulfuric and nitric acids with simple alcohols has been well documented since the advent of classical organic chemistry (a second part of the nineteenth century), it has been only a recent decade since the discovery of these species in the airborne particulate matter attracted attention of the atmospheric community owing to their enhanced polarity and hydrophilic properties. The advances in the field of analytical instrumentations, chiefly in mass spectrometry, made it possible to provide a detailed characterization of organo-sulfates/nitrates at the molecular level. The composition of aerosol samples collected from various field campaigns showed clearly that organo-sulfates/nitrates may serve as excellent molecular tracers for anthropogenically affected aerosol sources, as it is the case of urban atmosphere.


Organosulfates (OS) Organonitrates (ON) Inorganic pollutants Ambient Aerosol Urban air quality Atmospheric sciences Mass spectrometry 



The research of Dr. Rafal Szmigielski at the Institute of Physical Chemistry, Polish Academy of Sciences was allowed through the funding from a Marie Curie Reintegration fellowship of the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme ([FP7/2007–2013]) under grant agreement n° PERG05-GA-2009-249160. The author would like to acknowledge the invitation from Dr. Ian Barnes, Prof. Alia Shakour and Dr. Krzysztof Rudzinski to the NATO symposium on disposal of dangerous chemicals in urban areas and mega cities: oxides and acids of nitrogen – their role in the oxidation capacity of urban areas and mega cities and the opportunity to present a plenary lecture.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry, Institute of Physical ChemistryPolish Academy of Sciences (PAS)WarsawPoland

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