Characterising particulate organic nitrogen at a savannah-grassland region in South Africa
Van Zyl, Pieter G.
Beukes, Johan P.
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Although atmospheric organic N compounds are considered to be important, especially in new particle formation and their contribution to brown carbon, these species are not that well understood. This can be partially attributed to their chemical complexity. Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess the characteristics of organic N compounds utilising comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography coupled with a time-of-flight mass spectrometer (GCxGC-TOFMS) in aerosol samples that were collected at a savanna-grassland background region and to determine the possible sources. 135 atmospheric organic N compounds were tentatively characterised and semi-quantified, which included amines, nitriles, amides, urea, pyridine derivatives, amino acids, nitro-and nitroso compounds, imines, cyanates and isocyanates, and azo compounds. Amines contributed to 51% of the semi-quantified concentrations, while nitriles, pyridine derivatives, and amides comprised 20%, 11%, and 8%, respectively, of the semi-quantified concentrations. Amines, nitriles, amides, and pyridine derivatives concentrations were higher during the dry season, which were attributed to meteorology and open biomass burning. Anthropogenic sources impacting air masses measured at Welgegund, as well as regional agricultural activities, were considered as the major sources of amines, while the regional influence of household combustion was most likely the main source of nitriles, amides, and pyridine derivatives. The other organic N species were most likely related to the influence of local and regional agricultural activities