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Molecular markers, essential oils and diagnostic parameters as indicators for assessing the origin and constitution of organic matter in atmospheric aerosols

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Atmospheric particulate matter was collected at two sites: an Abies boressi forest in central Greece and in Giesta, a coastal-rural site in the centre of Portugal. The extractable organic material consisted primarily of aliphatic hydrocarbons, acids, alcohols, and ketones, with a predominance of molecular weights >C20, derived from vascular plant waxes. Biomarkers for vegetation sources such as phytosterols, triterpenic compounds and essential oils were also detected. Microbial components (>C20), pyrogenic aromatic hydrocarbons and petroleum residues, including hopanes, steranes and cyclic and branched hydrocarbons, were present in the various aerosol extracts. In the apportionment of the various organic fractions to sources, vegetation waxes dominated, contributing to 50?60% of the solvent-extractable material in the aerosols. Petroleum residues and microbial components comprise 25?30% and 15?25% of the organic matter, respectively.

Keywords: molecular markers, essential oils, diagnostic parameters, atmospheric aerosols, GC-MS, source assignment, Greece, Portugal, biomarkers, air pollution, air quality

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