Source Apportionment of Elemental Carbon Across the San Francisco Bay Area Using Combined Radiocarbon and Chemical Mass Balances
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
The San Francisco Bay Area is impacted by ambient particulate matter (PM) from a variety of sources including motor vehicles, biomass burning, off-road vehicles, industry, and meat cooking. Ambient PM, especially fine PM (diameter less than 2.5µm, PM2.5), is known to negatively impact health. Elemental Carbon (EC) is one of the major constituents of PM2.5. It not only negatively affects health but is also a powerful short-lived climate forcer. The State of California and Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) have made efforts in regulating contribution of EC from diesel trucks and wood burning, respectively. These and other efforts have assisted in significantly reducing the annual average PM2.5 concentrations approximately 30% since 2005 and 70% since 1990. Despite these improvements, to better determine the relative contribution of contemporary vs. fossil carbon, radiocarbon source apportionment of EC was conducted on PM2.5 collected in the Bay Area. Measurements of the abundance of 14C in the EC fractions are used to quantify the relative contributions of fossil carbon (fossil fuel combustion, including motor vehicle exhaust) and contemporary carbon (biomass combustion and meat cooking). This comprehensive study included seven sites in the Bay Area and 12 months of sampling starting November 2011 through October 2012. The samples were composited to represent winter (November-February) and non-winter (March-October). In addition to radiocarbon analysis, Chemical Mass Balance (CMB) analysis using bulk PM2.5 composition and selected trace gases was used to understand the split among gasoline, natural gas, and diesel exhaust. Preliminary apportionment of the seven sites shows roughly equal contributions of fossil fuel and biomass burning/cooking for both winter and non-winter samples. There is evidence that the diesel contribution to EC, in particular, has decreased substantially over the last decade.