Feasibility of Soil Dust Source Apportionment by the Pyrolysis-Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry Method

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This study tested the feasibility of using pyrolysis (Py)-gas chromatography (GC)/mass spectrometry (MS) to obtain organic chemical species data suitable for source apportionment modeling of soil-derived coarse particulate matter (PM10) dust on ambient filters. A laboratory resuspension apparatus was used with known soils to generate simulated receptor filter samples loaded with 0.4 mg of PM10 dust, which is within the range of mass loading on ambient filters. Py-GC/MS at 740 °C generated five times more resolvable compounds than were obtained with thermal desorption GC/MS at 315 °C. The identified compounds were consistent with literature from Py experiments using larger samples of bulk soils. A subset of 91 organic species out of the 178 identified Py products was used as input to CMB8 software in a demonstration of source apportionment using laboratory-generated mixtures simulating ambient filter samples. The 178 quanti- fied organic species obtained by Py of soil samples is an improvement compared with the 38 organic species obtained by thermal desorption of soils and the four functionally defined organic fractions reported by thermal/ optical reflectance. Significant differences in the concentration of specific species were seen between samples from different sites, both geographically distant and close, using analysis of variance and cluster analysis. This feasibility study showed that Py-GC/MS can generate useful source profile data for receptor modeling and justifies continued method development.

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