Impacts on Air Quality due to Photosensitized Production of Excited State O2 (1Δg) by PAHs and Oxy-PAHs in the Lower Atmosphere: An Experimental and Computational Modeling Approach

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Geovani Alexander Montoya1, Marc Carreras-Sospedra2, Julia Montoya1, Donald Dabdub2 and Krishna L Foster1, (1)California State University Los Angeles, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Los Angeles, CA, United States, (2)University of California Irvine, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Irvine, CA, United States
Complex reactions between hydroxyl radicals (OH) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the lower atmosphere have a high impact on the formation/fates of airborne toxic chemicals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and particulate matter.1 Recently, air quality models have been implemented to identify OH sources, but have underpredicted OH concentrations. Studies suggest that O2 (1Δg) is produced via an energy transfer (ET) mechanism initiated by the electronic excitation of PAH and oxygenated-PAH. Energy transfer involves the formation of triplet excited state PAH which is then quenched by the surrounding ground state O2 (3g) resulting in excited state O2 (1Δg) formation. Excited state O2 (1Δg) is known to readily react with mono-olefins to produce organic hydroperoxides.2,3 Furthermore, the organic hydroperoxide can photodegrade to yield OH. In this study, a Nd:YAG laser coupled to a time-resolved near infrared detector was used to obtain quantum yields of O2 (1Δg) production by irradiating PAHs and oxy-PAHs at both 355 nm and 532 nm in different solvents. Select PAHs, primarily emitted by combustion engines (e.g. pyrene and benzo[a]pyrene), and their oxygenated forms (oxy-PAHs) have been identified as highly efficient O2 (1Δg) photosensitizers. For example, the measured quantum yield for pyrene in toluene was 0.90 ± 0.02. The measured quantum yields were used to calculate the photochemical rate constants for O2 (1Δg) production via ET from electronically excited PAHs and oxy-PAHs. These results were incorporated into the University of California, Irvine-California Institute of Technology (UCI-CIT) model to assess the impact on OH concentrations and the overall air quality of the South Coast Air Basin of California.


1 Finlayson-Pitts, B.J., and J. N. Pitts (1997), Science, 276(5315),1045–1052.

2 Foote, C. S. (1968), Accts. Chem. Res., 1, 104-110; Gollnick, K. (1968), Adv. Photochem., 6, 1-112; Kearns, D. R. (1971), Chem. Rev., 71, 395-427.

3 Frimer, A. A. (1985), Singlet O2CRC, Boca Raton, FL.