Thermal/optical reflectance equivalent organic and elemental carbon determined from federal reference and equivalent method fine particulate matter samples using Fourier transform infrared spectrometry

A fine particulate matter (PM2.5) monitoring network of filter-based federal reference methods and federal equivalent methods (FRM/FEMs) is used to assess local ambient air quality by comparison to National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) at about 750 sites across the continental United States. Currently, FRM samplers utilize polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) filters to gravimetrically determine PM2.5 mass concentrations. At most of these sites, sample composition is unavailable. In this study, we present the proof-of-principle estimation of the carbonaceous fraction of fine aerosols on FRM filters using a nondestructive Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) method. Previously, a quantitative FT-IR method accurately determined thermal/optical reflectance equivalent organic and elemental carbon (a.k.a., FT-IR organic carbon [OC] and elemental carbon [EC]) on filters collected from the chemical speciation network (CSN). Given the similar configuration of FRM and CSN aerosol samplers, OC and EC were directly determined on FRM filters on a mass-per-filter-area basis using CSN calibrations developed from nine sites during 2013 that have collocated CSN and FRM samplers. FRM OC and EC predictions were found to be comparable to those of the CSN on most figures of merit (e.g., R2) when the type of PTFE filter used for aerosol collection was the same in both networks. Although prediction accuracy remained unaffected, FT-IR OC and EC determined on filters produced by a different manufacturer show marginally increased prediction errors suggesting that PTFE filter type influences extending CSN calibrations to FRM samples. Overall, these findings suggest that quantifying FT-IR OC and EC on FRM samples appears feasible.

© 2018 American Association for Aerosol Research