Characteristics of water-soluble organic nitrogen in fine particulate matter in the continental area of China

K. F. Ho, Steven Sai Hang Ho, Ru Jin Huang, S. X. Liu, Jun Ji Cao, T. Zhang, Hsiao Chi Chuang, C. S. Chan, Di Hu, Linwei Tian

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66 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years growing evidence has shown that organic nitrogen (ON) constitutes a significant fraction of the nitrogen budget in particulate matter (PM). However, the composition and sources of ON in Chinese PM are not clear to date due to the lack of field measurements and receptor modeling interpretations. In this study, water-soluble ON (WSON), free amino acids (FAAs) and primary amines, together with water-soluble ionic species and carbonaceous components, were quantified in PM2.5 collected in Xi'an, China from 2008 to 2009. The yearly average WSON concentration (300nmolNm-3, ranging from 29 to 1250nmolNm-3) was one order of magnitude higher than that reported in other urban and rural regions in U.S. A total of 24 organic nitrogen species were determined, with an average total concentration of 2180pmolm-3, which account for 1.2% of the WSON in PM2.5. Glycine, β-alanine and methylamine were the most abundant protein type amino acid, non-protein type amino acid and primary amine, respectively, contributing to 21.1%, 5.2% and 20.6% of the total quantified organic nitrogen species (TONS). Strong linear correlations (Pearson's correlation) (r=.72, p+) potentially indicate the contribution from biomass burning (especially in spring and fall) and the correlation (r=.76-.87, p

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-261
Number of pages10
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Amines
  • Amino acids
  • PM
  • Water-soluble organic nitrogen
  • Xi'an

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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