Photoacoustic study of airborne and model aerosols
Airborne particulates of either natural or anthropogenic origin constitute a significant portion of atmospheric pollution. Environmental xenobiotics, among which are polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and pesticides, often adsorb to aerosols and as such are transported through the atmosphere with the physicochemical properties of the aerosols determining the lifetime of these organic compounds. As an example, the resistance of some PAHs against the photolysis is explained by the effect of the aerosol's "inner filter" that reduces the intensity of incident light reaching the mineral particles. On the other hand, some constituents of the aerosols can act as catalytic and/or stoichiometric reagents in atmospheric reactions on the solid surfaces. In the study described here the photoacoustic (PA) spectroscopy in the UV-Vis was used to investigate natural and model aerosols. The PA spectra obtained from coal and wood ashes and of Saharan sand, all three representatives of airborne aerosols, provide the evidence for the existence of the "inner filter." Furthermore, valuable information about the different nature of the interaction between the model aerosols and adsorbed organics (e.g., PAH-pyranthrene and silica, alumina, and MgO) has been obtained. Finally, the outcome of the study conducted with powdered mixtures of chalk and black carbon suggests that the PA method is a candidate method for determination of carbon content in stack ashes.